It’s the same stadium where New England Revolution legend Taylor Twellman was named Most Valuable Player at the 2005 MLS All-Star Game for scoring against Fulham. And where goalkeeper Matt Reis saved two penalties in a 2004 playoff game. It’s where the Revolution’s 2014 MLS Cup run began and where another one of the club’s icons, Steve Ralston, scored the game-winning goal in the U.S. national team’s 2-0 victory against Mexico to clinch a bid to the 2006 World Cup.
MAPFRE Stadium – known historically as Crew Stadium – is a treasure trove of memories for the Revolution, dating back to Major League Soccer’s inaugural season in 1996.
But that history could be coming to a close. Saturday’s match between the Revolution (3-2-1, 10 points) and Columbus Crew SC (3-3-1, 10 points) is the only regular-season meeting between the two clubs in Ohio. Barring both sides facing each other in the playoffs, the Revolution could leave MAPFRE Stadium this weekend and never return.
Crew owner Anthony Precourt is working to move the club to Austin in 2019, threatening the future of soccer in Columbus.
Nostalgia aside, New England visits Columbus looking to bounce back from having a four-game unbeaten run snapped last Saturday night in a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas. Similarly, the hosts, who opened 2018 with three wins in four matches, are looking to snap a three-game losing skid.
The Revolution are 23-35-12 all-time against the Crew.
Ironically, the Revs have a paltry 8-20-6 record at Columbus despite their handful of fond memories in MLS’ original soccer-specific stadium.
That said, New England won the teams’ last encounter 2-1 at Gillette Stadium on May 21, 2017. Diego Fagundez had two goals for the hosts, while Ola Kamara, who was traded last winter to the Los Angeles Galaxy, scored Columbus’ lone goal.
Players to Watch
Fagundez will again be the player to watch from the Revolution’s point of view.
He currently leads the team in scoring with three goals and has been instrumental in the attacking third, combining well with Cristian Penilla and Teal Bunbury. The spotlight is shining particularly bright on Fagundez because he’s currently enjoying his personal best start to a season and, according to Revolution head coach Brad Friedel, is playing a part in keeping out of favor playmaker Lee Nguyen off the match 18 week after week.
Forward Gyasi Zardes is the Crew’s player to watch. He leads Columbus in goals (4), shots (21) and shots on goal (8). Zardes, who is also starting to establish himself as a fixture with the U.S. national team, will look to end his two-game goalless streak Saturday against New England.
New England Revolution: GK – Matt Turner; D – Andrew Farrell, Claude Dielna, Jalil Anibaba, Gabriel Somi; M – Scott Caldwell, Wilfired Zahibo, Luis Caicedo, Cristian Penilla, Diego Fagundez; F – Teal Bunbury
Columbus Crew: GK – Zach Steffen; D – Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Josh Williams, Milton Valenzuela; M – Will Trapp, Artur, Federico Higuain, Pedro Santos, Cristian Martinez; F – Gyasi Zardes
Expected Kick-off: 7:30 p.m. ET
Officials: Referee: Christopher Penso; Assistant Referees: Jeff Hosking (AR1), Jeremy Kieso (AR2); Fourth Official: Marcos DeOliveira; Video Assistant Referee: Silviu Petrescu
TV/Radio: New England – NBC Sports Boston (Streaming on NBCSportsBoston.com and on the NBC Sports app); 98.5 The Sports Hub, WMVX 1570 AM “Nossa Radio USA” (Portuguese)
Forecast: 41°, partly cloudy skies