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Thierry Henry may play Saturday for New York vs. Revolution

Posted by Julian Cardillo May 9, 2013 06:13 PM


Thierry Henry has been with the New York Red Bulls since 2010, but he has never played at Gillette Stadium because of the artificial turf. He and Red Bulls coach Mike Petke are discussing whether he will make his first appearance when the Red Bulls visit the Revolution Saturday night.

The Red Bulls will be missing Peguy Luyindula, who suffered a left hamstring strain Wednesday night against Montreal, and without Henry, they would be down to three forwards.

“I’ve got to speak with Mike,” said Henry, who prefers not to play on turf fields for fear of injury. “I’ve never played there, so we’ll see how it is.”

According to an anonymous player survey conducted by Sports Illustrated, the Gillette Stadium turf is the worst in all of MLS. It has kept away the likes of Henry, David Beckham, and Antonio Valencia in recent years.

Since Henry signed in July 2010, the Red Bulls are winless against the Revolution when he isn't on the field. But New York has also never lost to New England when Henry plays.

The Red Bulls are currently atop the Eastern Conference, 3 points ahead of the Houston Dynamo. But Houston has played two fewer games. So Petke may opt to start Henry no matter what the turf conditions are.

The Revolution are on a 16-match unbeaten run against New York at Gillette Stadium dating back to June 29, 2002. That streak may be in jeopardy should Henry play.

Agudelo arrives in New England

New Revolution acquisition Juan Agudelo arrived from California late Wednesday night. Agudelo, who will wear No. 10, is rehabilitating a hamstring injury and is not likely to start Saturday against his former team.

"It feels like every single day it's improving," Agudelo told revolutionsoccer.net. "I'm so anxious to get out on the field.

"You have to be smart. If you reinjure it, it can be a pretty bad thing. I feel pretty good right now. I've been sprinting for the last two weeks."

Former DP Caraglio competing in Serie A

Milton Caraglio may be playing for Pescara, the current bottom dwellers of the Italian Serie A, but the fact that he is plying his trade in Italy could be proof that he deserved his designated player contract with the Revolution. Caraglio, who nearly signed with West Ham United before going on loan with the Revolution from Argentina's Rosario Central, has played four times for Pescara this season.

Pescara will likely be relegated to Serie B this season. He appears to have the reputation of a player with plenty of raw talent that needs to be developed.

Even if he is seeing minimal playing time, Serie A is many steps up from the Argentine league, Chilean league, and MLS.

Caraglio, 24, scored three goals in 12 appearances for the Revolution during the 2011 season. He was part of one of Diego Maradona's national team camps in 2010.

Revolution lost to Salt Lake because they stopped attacking

Posted by Julian Cardillo May 8, 2013 10:05 PM

The Revolution would have sealed up a comfortable victory against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night had they not stopped attacking. But the Revolution quit pressuring Salt Lake’s back line after Ryan Guy scored in the 51st minute and allowed two goals in a 12-minute span to fall 2-1.

Referee Jose Carlos Rivero handed the Revolution a lifeline in second-half stoppage time when he gave Carlos Salcedo his second yellow card and called a penalty kick for the Revolution. But Saer Sene couldn’t convert from the spot, as Nick Rimando dove to his right to make the save.

Still, the Revolution never should have been in a position where a last-minute penalty kick would decide the game.

After they split the chances and possession with Salt Lake in a scoreless first half, the Revolution took control immediately after the halftime break. Guy scored his first goal of the season, and the fourth of his Revolution career, by volleying a cross by Kelyn Rowe first-time past Rimando.

As expected, Salt Lake pushed forward in search of an equalizer. And in their hunt for a tying goal, the visitors left tons of space behind the defense and in central midfield for the Revolution to exploit. But the Revolution exploited nothing, opting instead to sit back and defend a one-goal lead.

A frustrated Jay Heaps agreed that the Revolution should have maintained their offensive momentum during a postgame press conference.

“No lead is safe, ever,” said Heaps. “It’s a disappointing result and a tough one to take. We gave away too much at the end and a good team penalized us.”

“I was disappointed that we didn’t go for more. It was there. We needed to get the second goal.”

Sitting back against Salt Lake, who have a slew of dangerous weapons in midfield, invited a firing squad of scoring chances against the Revolution backline. Bobby Shuttleworth did his part, making five saves. In fact, both of Salt Lake’s goals were rebounds that came following spectacular saves from Shuttleworth.

First, Sebastien Vilazquez fired a low, hard shot six yards from goal in the 77th minute that Shuttleworth blocked. But Devon Sandoval slipped past Jose Goncalves and slid onto the rebound to level the game.

Twelve minutes later, a Javier Morales corner kick led to a volley from Kyle Beckerman that Shuttleworth palmed away. But while Shuttleworth was on the turf following the initial save, Olmes Garcia beat Andrew Farrell to the ball and fired into the lower left corner to give Salt Lake the lead.

“They started to play well,” Heaps said. “You have to give them credit, they’re a good team and they move the ball well. There are going to be spells when they get ten, fifteen passes in a row. They didn’t break us down until the second when we gave them a little too much and they punished us.”

The Revolution were fortunate to get a penalty kick late in the game to equalize. But Sene, who converted the only penalty kick he was afforded last season, shouldn’t have faced Rimando, one of the league’s best spot-kick stoppers. Sene, who came on as a substitute, is still finding his form after being sidelined since last summer rehabilitating a torn ACL.

“Lee Nguyen is our penalty kick taker,” said Heaps. “We have contests and the players work on it. Saer was our kick taker last year and he’s coming back into form. It’s a bad spot to be in in the 90th minute.

Nguyen wasn’t on the field because he was substituted in the 74th minute for Juan Toja. But the Revolution had other capable penalty-takers on the field. One was Guy, who had the hot foot having scored earlier. The other was Jerry Bengston, who Sene took the ball from.

“I was sending prayers and positive thoughts Saer’s way the whole time,” said Guy. “I think it was definitely going to come down to either Jerry or Saer. When you miss one, it’s you’re always going to say the other one should have taken it. But if he had put it away there would have been no problem.”

A win would have pushed New England back into playoff position. Still, four of the Revolution’s next five games are at home, meaning that there are still plenty of opportunities to move up the standings. New England have to learn keep attacking, no matter what the lead, starting now with a game against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

“We don’t have to wait this long to turn this one around,” finished Guy. “This isn’t going to hinder us in continuing to get points.”

In-game Commentary: Revolution vs Real Salt Lake

Posted by Julian Cardillo May 8, 2013 08:02 PM

Outlook: There was no reason for the Revolution to lose this game. This one hurts, and it's all down to the fact that they stopped attacking after they scored. Real Salt Lake pick up a very valuable away result.

Final: Revolution 1, Salt Lake 2

90th minute stoppage time- Sene has his penalty kick saved by Nick Rimando.

90th minute- Salcedo sees his second yellow, gets a red card, and gets sent off. Referee calls a penalty kick for the Revolution.

89th minute- And Real Salt Lake takes the lead. Olmes Garcia puts it into the goal. Kyle Beckerman fires a bullet that Shuttleworth stops. But Beckerman is there to pounce on the rebound.

83rd minute- Former Revolution midfielder Kenny Mansally enters the game for Devon Sandoval for Real Salt Lake.

77th minute- Velasquez takes a shot, has it stopped by Shuttleworth. Sandoval buries the rebound into the back of the net to level the game.

76th minute- Bobby Shuttleworth makes a big save, he dives left to stop a point-blank header by Devon Sandoval off a Ned Grabavoy cross.

74th minute- Juan Toja on for Lee Nguyen (NE)...Toja draws a booking seconds into taking the field.

73rd minute- RSL tacking on the pressure but the Revs stay strong. Shuttleworth has made two saves tonight.

64th minute- Revolution starting to stay back in defend, but Saer Sene replaces Diego Fagundez.

60th minute- Revolution playing with some swag since taking the lead.

51st minute- Kelyn Rowe dribbles down the right flank and crosses into the center of the penalty area. Ryan Guy connects with the cross and volleys first-time into the back of the net. That's his first goal of the season and the fourth of his Revolution career.

48th minute- Fagundez takes a shot and has it saved by Rimando

Halftime

45th minute- The Revolution looked good at the start of the half while Salt Lake didn't really show anything. Both teams need to improve in the second half.

36th minute- Salcedo gets yellow carded for elbowing Chris Tierney. Ugly play.

27th minute- This game just got very dull. Not really any chances on either side.

17th minute- Both teams starting to get careless with the ball but the Revolution still look like the better team.

7th minute- Bengston gets in behind, cuts past Rimando, loses his angle and then passes to Fagundez. Fagundez whiffs, ball falls to Nguyen who gets it back to Bengston. Bengston has shot deflected over the crossbar. Someone needed to put that chance away.
6th minute- The Revolution have been the more offensive team through the first five minutes.

3rd minute- Bengston nearly connects with a cross from Lee Nguyen, but Chris Schuler dealt with it well.

First Half

Lineups

New England: GK: Shuttleworth; D: Farrell, Goncalves, McCarthy, Tierney; M: Rowe, Nguyen, Caldwell, Guy, Fagundez; F: Bengston...Salt Lake: GK: Rimando; D: Salcedo, Wingert, Beltran, Schuler; M: Grabavoy, Morales, Gil, Beckerman; F: Sandoval, Plata

Meet Juan Agudelo

Posted by Julian Cardillo May 7, 2013 07:05 PM

The Revolution have acquired US National Team forward Juan Agudelo from Chivas USA in exchange for an undisclosed amount of allocation money. Agudelo, 20, is one of the US' most exciting prospects and has already flourished in big game situations.

He scored the game-winning goal off the bench in a friendly against South Africa in 2010 at age 17 and the tying goal in a 1-1 draw against Argentina in New York in 2011.

Agudelo joined Chivas USA last year as part of a four-player trade with the New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls groomed the Colombian-born Agudelo in their academy, and he immediately caught the eyes of major clubs around the world such as Millionarios and Celtic.

On the recommendation of current US National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Agudelo has spent the offseason participating in training stints with the likes of Stuttgart and Liverpool. Klinsmann appears to like what he sees, even if Agudelo had an injury-riddled 2012 season, as he has called him up to the national team twice in the last 12 months. On Nov. 14, 2012, Agudelo rewarded Klinsmann's faith in him by assisting on Michael Bradley's game-tying goal in a friendly against Russia.

Not only does Agudelo have quick pace and a knack for being in the right place at the right time, but he also can score with any part of his body. Each one of his 11 goals in MLS is unique -- that's something the Revolution haven't had in a striker since Taylor Twellman.

Nevertheless, Agudelo is young and still developing. It also looks as though he will play the set-up man for Revolution forwards Jerry Bengston, Diego Fagundez, and Saer Sene.

The Revolution have scored just four goals through the first eight games of the season, and only one of them has come from a forward. That's a problem that Agudelo should help address.There needs to be more output from the strikers and less reliance on the defense if the Revolution are going to contend for a playoff spot this season.

The Revolution's newest forward is expected to arrive in New England later this week. The Revolution host Real Salt Lake at Gillette Stadium Wednesday night.

Take a look down below at what Agudelo has done. The first video is his first-ever international goal. The second is one of his most memorable goals for New York.

MLS Players Union releases New England Revolution 2013 salaries

Posted by Julian Cardillo May 6, 2013 11:53 PM

Starting 11 Pic.jpg

Kristian Cardillo

The MLS Players' Union released the 2013 salaries of every league player on Monday. The Revolution look, for the most part, like they know how to play moneyball. But the salaries of some players who haven't earned minutes in months is just head scratching.

Kalifa Cisse is the Revolution's highest paid player, making $400,000. Cisse was the most expensive off-season acquisition, though he more or less replaced Benny Feilhaber, who made the same amount but was traded to Sporting Kansas City during the off-season.

The Revolution's off-season acquisitions cost varying amounts. Chad Barrett earns $105,000 but has only played in three games. Andy Dorman makes $125,000, which is $94,130 more than his salary was when he left the Revolution in 2007. Jose Goncalves makes $75,000, though the Revolution may have negotiated to pay less of his salary when they signed him on loan from FC Sion. Bilal Duckett makes the least of the off-season newcomers with a $35,125 salary.

Scott Caldwell, the Revolution's second home-grown signing, is making $46,500. Andrew Farrell, who was the first overall pick at this year's draft, makes $80,000. The rest of the Revolution rookies (Gabe Latigue, Donnie Smith, Luis Soffner) are making $35,125.

The Revolution's starting lineup last Thursday night against Portland cost them $33,133. The New York Red Bulls starting lineup in their last game was $272,707.

Several of last year's players saw their salaries increase. The list below shows this year's players and their 2013 salaries followed by their 2012 salaries:

Player 2013 2012
Matt Reis $165,000 $157,000
Bobby Shuttleworth $80,004 $44,101
Darrius Barnes $71,467 $68,063
AJ Soares $103,345 $76,450
Chris Tierney $82,265 $73,125
Stephen McCarthy $87,120 $51,700
Tyler Polak $65,000 $60,000
Clyde Simms $87,500 $75,000
Diego Fagundez $99,996 $55,000
Ryan Guy $48,510 $44,100
Lee Nguyen $73,600 $44,000
Sainey Nyassi $88,200 $84,000
Kelyn Rowe $90,000 $75,000
Saer Sene $200,000 $138,000
Jerry Bengston $132,000 $120,000
Juan Toja $275,000 NA
Dmitry Imbongo $90,000 $69,999

Head Scratchers:


  • Sainey Nyassi has yet to make an appearance in 2013 and played just 11 minutes in 2012. His salary increased by $4,200 this off-season to $88,200

  • Chad Barrett took nearly a 50 percent pay cut in signing with the Revolution after playing with the LA Galaxy for $220,000 last year. Still, he has only played in three games this year.

  • Dmitry Imbongo's salary went up by $20,000 to $90,000 and he is occupying a roster spot. He has looked very sharp this year, but has scored just one goal in his short time with the Revolution. If his scoring output doesn't rise, expect his option to not be picked up.


Some of the Revolution's salary increases are likely due to league rules involving the salary cap and player contracts. Other increases may be because of undisclosed contract negotiations between the player and club.

Using only these numbers, the Revolution have used $2,429,166 of their $2,950,000 salary cap.

The highest-paid players in MLS overall are:

Player Base salary Total compensation
F Thierry Henry, New York $3,750,000 $4,350,000
F Robbie Keane, Los Angeles $4,000,000 $4,333,333
M Tim Cahill, New York $3,500,000 $3,625,000
F Landon Donovan, Los Angeles $2,500,000 $2,500,000
F Marco Di Vaio, Montreal $1,000,008 $1,937,508
F Obafemi Martins, Seattle $1,600,000 $1,725,000
F Danny Koevermans, Toronto $1,250,000 $1,663,323
F Kenny Miller, Vancouver $1,114,992 $1,132,492

Juventus is a team to watch

Posted by Julian Cardillo May 5, 2013 04:45 PM

Two weeks after being ousted by Bayern Munich by a 4-0 aggregate margin in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, Juventus gave their faithful reason to celebrate by winning their second consecutive--and 29th all-time-- Italian Serie A title. What pretty much the entire Italian and world soccer communities knew would happen officially happened on Sunday when Juventus defeated Palermo 1-0, confirming them as Italy's 2012-2013 league champions.

With three games left in the season, Juventus, who are 14 points ahead of second place Napoli, can switch on cruise control as they enter the off-season.

In truth, Juventus have been cruising for the last two years. Last year, they earned the Serie A title, going undefeated through the entire 2011-2012 season. And though they lost three games this season, Juventus still managed to finish in first place despite the added pressure and fatigue of a long Champions League campaign.

Their recent success should earn them more recognition next year among followers of world soccer, who tend to exclusively follow the English Premier League, Spain's La Liga, and the German Bundesliga. To many, the style seen in the Italian league isn't flashy or exciting enough. But while many of the other Serie A teams aren't as intense as some teams in other leagues, Juventus have definitely gone about their business in style.

Just see a clip of Andrea Pirlo crossing the ball or creating space with an inch-perfect pass. Take note of Gianluigi Buffon's prowess between the goal posts. Look at Claudio Marchisio control the midfield. See Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli combine to anchor one of the stingiest defenses in the world. And take note of how many different scoring options Juventus have on the field.

What's more, Juventus are a living, breathing phoenix metaphor. Forced down to the Italian Serie B second division by the Italian Soccer Federation in 2006, Juventus lost most of its core after being found guilty of participating in betting.

This caused most of Juventus' best players to move to other teams in Europe, forcing the club into re-birth.

So from 2007 to 2011, most of Juventus' mission was re-branding. It's been a very bumpy road. During that stretch, Juventus were dreadfully inconsistent. They struggled to rebuild their core. They were perennially absent from Champions League. They were no longer thought of as favorites to win the league title.

Last year, everything seemed to fall into place when they opened up a new stadium, won the title, and qualified for Champions League. The phoenix was re-born and the re-branding was complete.

Only one thing is still missing: when the Federation relegated Juventus in 2006, they also stripped them off "due stelle"--two stars, in English-- the two league titles they won during the alleged betting scandal.

Many of Juventus' players and fans insist that those titles should never have been taken away, to the point where the phrase "30 sul campo" (30 on the field) is embroidered on their jerseys below the crest.

Next year will be especially critical for Juventus, as it's their chance to win the 30th star.

That kind of story shouldn't go unnoticed.

Aside from that, the fact that Juventus have performed this well is impressive. They went toe-to-toe with Italy and Europe's best. Though they didn't go undefeated in Serie A this season, they suffered just three losses. The highlights of their Champions League campaign include going undefeated in the Group stage to finish first and preventing Chelsea from reaching the knockout round.

And though they lost to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, they fared much better than Barcelona, who lost to Bayern in the semi-final by a 7-0 aggregate score.

Juventus may not have a Lionel Messi and may not quite be good enough to be considered the best team in the world. They do, in truth, have more winning to do. But they are, for certain, one of world's best football clubs.

That 30th star may not be too far away.

tags Juventus

Revolution's defensive depth proves itself in 0-0 draw at Portland

Posted by Julian Cardillo May 3, 2013 02:32 PM


Revolution coach Jay Heaps must be ecstatic to know that he will get the most out of his defenders, no matter which ones he selects to start or how he aligns them on the field. That was made clear Thursday night as a hybrid New England back line preserved a 0-0 result at Portland for the Revolution's fifth shutout of the season.

Against one of the league's best attacking teams, the shorthanded Revolution pulled off the tricky task of exiting the Pacific Northwest with a positive result.

Without defenders Chris Tierney (suspension), A.J. Soares (hamstring), Andrew Farrell (knee), and Kevin Alston (disabled list), Heaps's remaining pieces turned in another solid result. Jose Goncalves and Stephen McCarthy played together in central defense for the third straight time, while Darrius Barnes made his first start at left back.

The Revolution also slotted Bilal Duckett -- who was recalled from the Rochester Rhinos of the USL-Pro -- at right back.

Everyone did their part, but Duckett was most impressive, helping shut down Portland's attack despite having not trained with the Revolution since early preseason. Duckett traveled 2,705 miles to Portland to meet up with the team.

“It’s been a crazy week,” said Duckett, who now will return to Rochester. “I couldn’t be happier to be up here and fight and get this point with these guys.”

“I think people probably wondered early on this year how [the Rochester affiliation] was going to work,” said Heaps. “Bilal came from Rochester, we got him here, sat down with him, got him up to speed.

"That’s the good thing about having a player playing four or five games when we don’t have as many reserves. He stepped in, went 90 minutes, and did a pretty good job.”

Bobby Shuttleworth did his part in goal as well, making nine saves for his third clean sheet of the season. The fifth-year professional is asserting himself as the Revolution's first-choice goalkeeper.

“Bobby did a nice job," said Heaps. "It’s the second game in a row he’s played really well. It’s not an easy environment.

"I think he’s reading the game well. It wasn’t like he was making spectacular saves, but he was making saves because of being in the right position, which is better than a spectacular save for me.”

Shuttleworth's best saves came in the second half when Portland stepped up the pressure. In the 54th minute, he saved a point-blank volley from Ryan Johnson. He came up with a more impressive stop in the 84th minute when he fully extended to his right to stop Diego Chara's curling effort for the upper left corner of the net.

“I think we were super-organized in the back," said Shuttleworth. "We all kept our lines, kept our shape, and were able to keep a clean sheet.

"I think it shows the depth we have on this team. Jay has done a great job of creating the competition and creating depth. You can see guys are coming in and doing really well. We aren’t missing a beat.”

Though the Revolution had to rely on defense and had less possession, they looked dangerous at times. They have some momentum going into their next game, which is Wednesday at home against Real Salt Lake.

A victory in that game would put the Revolution back into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference, and they are in position to build on that momentum since five of their next six games are at home.

“I think this is a big stretch for us," said Shuttleworth. "I think we need to go home and take care of business and make it difficult for teams to play us at Gillette.”

Live Commentary: New England Revolution at Portland Timbers

Posted by Julian Cardillo May 2, 2013 09:57 PM

FINAL: Revolution 0, Portland 0

Outlook

New England: The Revs will be exceedingly happy for getting a positive result at a very difficult away venue, even if it was a 0-0 result. Jay Heaps must be really happy to know that no matter who he plugs in on defense, they will perform. Darrius Barnes and Bilal Duckett were solid at the back filling in for their injured and suspended teammates. This was an important result for the Revolution, who can go back to Foxborough and try to extend their unbeaten streak to three games against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday...Portland: It's two points lost for the Timbers, who entered the game with one of the league's best offensive records having not yet been shutout this season. Donovan Ricketts kept them in the game with some key saves against the run of play. And though they've extended their unbeaten streak to seven games, Caleb Porter will be very unhappy that his team was unable to secure a victory.

Second Half

90th minute- 0-0 is the final. Both teams trading blows in the last 15 minutes, but this one was meant to end all square.

76th minute- Is there a goal in this game?

67th minute- Revs trying to refind their attacking legs, as Heaps brings Saer Sene on for Diego Fagundez.

63rd minute- Portland certainly the more attacking team, Piquionne comes on for Ryan Johnson.

57th minute- Timbers' Mikael Silvestre gets injured. He looks like he'll come out.

52nd minute- Bobby Shuttleworth with a big time saves on Ryan Johnson. Oof, that was close.

46th minute- Scott Caldwell comes on for Kalifa Cisse; it's the Revs' and the game's first substitution

First Half

45th minute- Great first half by the Revs. They really frustrated Portland. But they need to attack and get forward or expect Portland to pressure them like there is no tomorrow in the second half.

40th minute- Portland have had the better of the chances and possession in the last few minutes, but the Revs' backline has stayed strong.

33rd minute- Revs and Portland trade punches. No team is really better than the other thus far.

25th minute- Revs have looked pretty positive so far. They have had less shots than Portland, but they've managed the crowd and have done pretty well in midfield.

15th minute- Timbers nearly score as Valeri springs Nagbe. Big save by Shuttleworth, who gets it away.

10th minute- Revs going toe-to-toe with Portland. If they keep this up, they may be able to get something out of this match.

4th minute- Revs have looked pretty positive so far, but Portland have looked a little bit more decisive with their passes. Both teams obviously feeling each other out.

1st minute- And we're off!

Lineups

New England (2-3-2, 8 points) 4-1-4-1...GK- B. Shuttleworth; D- D. Barnes, S. McCarthy, J. Goncalves, B. Duckett; M- K. Cisse, R. Guy, K. Rowe, L. Nguyen, D. Fagundez; F- J. Bengston

Portland (3-1-4, 13 points) 4-5-1...GK- D. Ricketts; D- M. Harrington, M. Silvestre, M. Danso, J. Jewsbury; M-D. Chara, W. Johnson, R. Wallace, D. Valeri, D. Nagbe; F- R. Johnson

Keys to the Game

New England: Maintain defensive shape with newcomers Darrius Barnes and Bilal Duckett. Control the midfield and pressure the Portland defense, which has so far been very weak this season...Portland: Use tight marking to prevent the Revolution from going forward. Attack the flanks, be relentless on the attack.

MLS Game Preview: Revolution defense key against Portland

Posted by Julian Cardillo May 1, 2013 04:40 PM

Jose Goncalves.jpg

Jose Goncalves (right) has been instrumental for the Revolution's backline and that will have to continue on Thursday night against Portland with many of New England's first-choice starters unable to play due to injuries or suspension (photo credit: Kristian Cardillo)

The Revolution's defensive depth will certainly come in handy when they take on the Portland Timbers on Thursday night at Jeld-Wen Field. On Wednesday, the club recalled Bilal Duckett from his loan spell with the Rochester Rhinos of the USL Pro to potentially start in defense against Portland and also announced that the league had suspended and fined left back Chris Tierney for a tackle on Sebastien LeToux in Saturday night's 2-0 win over Philadelphia.

New England will also be without defenders AJ Soares (hamstring), Andrew Farrell (knee), and Kevin Alston (disabled list). So Duckett and Darrius Barnes will likely earn their first starts of 2013, while Jose Goncalves and Stephen McCarthy will make their second consecutive start together in central defense.

“This is why you have depth,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “If there’s an injury here or there, you’ve got to make sure that the guys are ready to go.”

Portland has arguably been the most interesting team through the first two months of the season. New Head Coach Caleb Porter has turned the Timbers into a team that plays attractive, fast, attacking soccer. And though the Revolution's defense has so far been one of the best in the league, Portland's offense will present a tough challenge to New England's thin backline.

Jamaican international and Boston native Ryan Johnson has been the Timbers' main offensive threat, with four goals so far this season. But the speedy attacker is even more dangerous because of his Timbers teammates, who have been relentless in creating scoring chances for him to put in the back of the net. Chief among these goal creators is Diego Chara, probably the Timbers' next best offensive catalyst behind Johnson, whose three assists are tied for the league lead.

"Each guy that's stepped in has done the job," says Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth of the Revolution's defense so far this season. "I can't say enough about the backline. All those guys have been really tremendous. We need to keep building on that, keep our shape, keep our lines, and keep it nice and tight back there."

Goncalves has been instrumental in central defense, pairing well with both Soares and McCarthy. His wisdom from having played in various European leagues appears to have transferred to MLS without delay, though he could be in for his biggest challenge yet in organizing and communicating with Barnes and Duckett.

Barnes is a natural center back, but will probably play left back since Goncalves has already played with McCarthy three times in central defense. Meanwhile, Duckett could be making his first-ever appearance with the Revolution, probably at right back. The Revolution backline is capable of helping capture a positive result, though both the defensive newcomers and mainstays will need to sync together immediately and avoid lapses.

Offensively, the Revolution are progressing, having ended a 539-minute scoreless streak on Saturday against Philadelphia. Scoring goals will help take even more pressure of the defense, especially if the Revolution can put the ball in the net more than once. And while Portland are on a six-game unbeaten hot streak, they also have the third worst defensive record, having allowed 11 goals so far this season.

“That was exactly what we were looking to do; be dangerous on the attack, get chances and finish those chances,” said Ryan Guy, of the win against Philadelphia. “I think we probably could’ve finished a few more than we did, but the goals that we did score were quality goals. They were from the run of play, from some good passages of play and it felt like we kind of broke the seal, which we’ve been looking to do for awhile now.”

“[Portland is] a great test...I think we’re all confident that this is something that can stick and we can get a little bit of steam under our belts, get going and continue to score some goals and get points.”

About Corner Kicks: Julian Cardillo offers analysis and insight about the New England Revolution as well as European and international soccer.

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