Injuries Plague Both Teams, But Nashville Takes the Cake
The New England Revolution have been missing Luis Caicedo and Carles Gil for a while now, due to injuries. Just recently, the Revs had to add Alexander Büttner to that list due to a hamstring issue. Against DC United, Matt Polster became concussed after making a tackle and getting a mistimed cleat to the temple while sliding through. New England will be missing him for this game as well. Bruce Arena is confident they will return soon.
"The injuries to [Alexander] Büttner and [Matt] Polster are really short-term injuries. They should be back pretty quickly."- Bruce Arena, when asked about Buttner and Polster returning
However, on the Nashville SC end of things, they are looking worse for wear. Nashville is without its top five attackers right now. NSC has scored 11 goals on the season thus far. Four players that are on the injury list make up five of those 11 goals. They will really be missing Daniel Armando Ríos, who got injured in their last game against the Houston Dynamo after scoring a goal in that game. He also scored a goal in the previous game as well.
Possession and Passing, The Key Ps
The Revolution managed to control the game for the last three matches. New England holed up in the attacking third against DC United. They had their most touches between the middle and final third against DC. Their passing helps the possession statistic. In their last game, the team averaged 83% complete passes.
For Nashville, possession has not been their strong point, only controlling the ball in one out of the four last games. Even in a game, they won against Atlanta, they only kept the ball for 39% of the match. Their ability to keep the ball in attacking areas is their major downfall. In the past four games, they've only managed as a team to touch the ball 546 times in the final third. Comparing this to the Revs, New England has managed to keep touches on the attacking zone 683 times. Most of those coming from the game where they controlled all the possession.
The New England Revolution should have this game in hand. Nashville will be without most of their attackers. There are players that are available that will be able to score against the Revs. However, the defense that New England has been putting out on the field has only allowed one goal in the last three games. It seems unlikely that a team that has only scored two goals in the last three will be able to score any more.
The Revolution are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They have scored five goals in the past three games and have multiple players with goal confidence. The team will look to continue their good fortunes. Nashville has very little in the way of strong subs to try and change the fortune of the game.
I predict a commanding win. The Revolution will win 4-0. Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, Teal Bunbury will be the scorers. Bou will score two. Matt Turner and his back four will keep up the shut-out and start a streak. The first visit from Nashville and New England will send them back home with nothing. The injuries before this game will definitely play a huge part in Nashville's ability to change the game.
Jalil Anibaba returns for the first time since he was poached from the Revolution after being left unprotected during the expansion draft. Revs fans would have been excited to see him back in front of them at Gillette. I hope to see a great game from Anibaba, but obviously, not too great!
Also, Nashville has reported that they recently had a COVID-19 positive test this week. Look forward and see how this changes the game today. As we're not clear if any of those players that were on NSC's injury list were due to the Coronavirus.