MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
08/15/2014 6:23 PM
08/15/2014 6:31 PM
Portland (7-7-9) at New England (8-12-2), 7:30 p.m.
Foxborough, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Timbers and New England Revolution will be hoping to improve their respective postseason chances when they do battle at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
Both sides enter the weekend outside the playoff picture as the Revs sit seventh in the Eastern Conference with 26 points while the Timbers occupy seventh in the West with 30 points.
Portland has won three of its last four league games, most recently cruising past Chivas USA in a 2-0 victory at Providence Park.
"If you look at performance wise our body of work, we've really played well almost every game all year," Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said after the match. "We fell short early in the year because we didn't find goals. We fell short at times because we gave up goals. Right now, we are getting the balance right.
"Early in the year when we were scoring goals then we started to overdo it by not having the right balance. I thought today we looked very balanced as a team. The outside backs got forward. We felt if they stayed connected, we would get a clean sheet. Their goal is to get a clean sheet first and foremost, defend well, and that we would find goals."
A clean sheet could be hard to come by against a Revs side that has scored four goals in its last two games.
Not only do the Revs have a wealth of attacking options, but the club managed to add to its stable of strikers by picking up Andre Akpan in a trade with Red Bull New York.
"He's a big strong player, fast, can hold the ball," Revs head coach Jay Heaps said. "He's going to come in and fight right away."
Revolution general manager Mike Burns echoed Heaps' sentiments with regard to Akpan.
"We've been looking to add more of a true No. 9," Burns said. "Andre clearly gives us more depth at that No. 9 position. He fit that bill for us."
Despite the serviceable offensive output of late, New England has dropped nine of its last 10 league games to slip far from its perch at the top of the table.
The club appeared to have its second consecutive win locked up on Aug. 2 when the Revs took a one-goal lead into halftime against the 10-man New York Red Bulls, but goals from Dax McCarty and Bradley Wright-Phillips saw New England leave Red Bull Arena empty-handed.
"Two completely different halves," Heaps said after the match. "The first half I couldn't have been prouder of the guys and the second half was really disappointing. We didn't react well. I thought we were going to come out flying in the second half but, unfortunately, we let a pretty easy goal in and we never recovered."
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