First-place Revolution welcome struggling Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night
The New England Revolution stand on top of the Eastern Conference with 17 points following their 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew last weekend. Head Coach & Sporting Director Bruce Arena spoke on last week’s result and previewed Saturday night’s match against Sporting Kansas City with Betrand and Murray for his weekly check-in.
New England carried a 1-0 lead into stoppage time and looked set to bring three points home from Ohio before the Crew tallied in the final minute on Sean Zawadski’s header. Despite the tough ending to the match, Arena highlighted the positives from the team’s performance and felt encouraged with the effort.
“Well, it was a good game. I thought we played well. If we could have hung on for another 20 seconds, we leave the field with three points, so unfortunately, they scored a goal at the end of the game and I think we could have been a little bit better on that play for sure, but overall, we played well.”
Forward Giacomo Vrioni suited up for his second start of the season in Columbus, guiding the attack with a team-high four shots, two on target, in his 76 minutes of action.
“He had a solid game, had an opportunity to finish one or two of those plays, but he’s making progress,” Arena said of Vrioni’s effort. “He really missed all of last year, so this is all new to him. It’s going to take a little bit of time, but he’s making progress and that’s a real positive sign.”
In the 65th minute, midfielder Dylan Borrero received a second yellow card and is now suspended for Saturday’s match vs. Sporting Kansas City. Borrero’s skillset in the attack will be missed on the pitch, but Arena noted the depth of his roster and the ability of younger players to step up in moments like this.
“We have a number of players that are ready to step up. Obviously, Dylan [Borrero] has different qualities than basically any of our players, so we’ll look a little bit differently, but we have a lot of good young players looking for opportunities and I think when kickoff comes on Saturday, we’ll look a little differently than we did in Columbus, but we’ll still have a team that I think is capable of earning three points.”
New England added to its depth chart this week with the signing of veteran defender Ben Sweat. The eighth-year outside back most recently played for Sporting Kansas City and has 121 regular season appearances in MLS on his resume.
“He’s a good, experienced defender. It’s a position where I think we needed some cover. We’re fortunate to be able to get him. He’s been around the league. He’s probably been with about half a dozen teams around the league and he’s a good passer of the ball, he’s experienced, he communicates well. I think he’s going to help improve the depth on our roster.”
Next up, the Revolution prepare to face Sporting Kansas City, who bring an 0-5-3 record to Foxborough as one of two teams in MLS still in search of their first win of the 2023 season. Despite their slow start, Arena knows what their attacking players are capable of and doesn’t want his squad to take this match lightly.
“They’re traditionally one of the strongest teams in the league. They’re off to obviously a difficult start this year, but they have quality players, especially in the attacking end of the field and oddly enough that’s been one of their weaknesses to date,” Arena stated. “They’ll come into Foxborough with three very good attacking players in [Johnny] Russel, [Alan] Pulido, and [Dániel] Sallói, so I think they’re going to be very challenging, and we have to be on top of our game. We need to defend well out of run of play. We need to defend well out of set pieces, and obviously like in any game, we need to score some goals.”
New England and Kansas City kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. The match will stream live for free on Apple TV and on 98.5 The Sports Hub with Brad Feldman and Charlie Davies calling the action.