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RSL vs. New England preview: Revs winless in Utah since 2007

MLS: Preseason-New England Revolution vs Real Salt Lake Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake play host to the sixth-place New England Revolution this Saturday when the Revs make the cross-country trek for the first and only match-up between these two sides in MLS regular season play.

Where they stand

The Revolution (5-7-7, 24 points) currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just eight points behind first-place New York City FC in what is turning into a tight race leading up to the playoff push. They’ve lost three of their last five matches, winning only two of them.

In their last outing, they defeated the Columbus Crew by a score of 3-1, in a highly-anticipated match that saw Kei Kamara face his old club just weeks after being sent to New England. Kamara picked up a goal in the 71st minute to put the game well out of reach for the struggling Crew.

Real Salt Lake (8-6-5, 29 points) is coming off an extremely disappointing 2-0 road loss to Vancouver on Wednesday night. Hoping to bounce back at home against New England, they currently sit in third place in the Western Conference, now a full eight points behind first-place FC Dallas with two games in hand on the league leaders.

RSL is now 1-2-2 in their last five matches, with their most recent win coming on June 22 at home against the New York Red Bulls. Salt Lake is still unbeaten at home this season with five wins and three draws in the comfortable confines of the Riot.

Match history

Real Salt Lake has a commanding lead in the all-time series, with nine wins, five losses, and five draws through 19 games played, outscoring the Revolution 34-25 overall.

New England hasn’t won in Utah since 2007 when they defeated a 10-man RSL by a score of 2-1 at Rice Eccles Stadium.

The last time these clubs met was in April 2015 when the Revolution gave a 4-0 beatdown to an RSL team that gave up goals to Chris Tierney, Juan Agudelo, Charlie Davies, and Scott Caldwell. The Revs outshot RSL 25-7 and controlled 53 percent of possession in what would be Salt Lake’s worst loss of the season—along with another 4-0 loss in Vancouver in August.

Key players and match-ups

Newly-acquired Kei Kamara has been expected to bolster the Revs’ attack, and it seems that he’s finding his form with his new team as he’s scored three goals in their last three games. Anyone who’s familiar with MLS knows Kei Kamara and how dangerous he can be to anyone’s defense when he’s on a hot streak. He currently has eight goals on the season—three of those coming in a New England uniform—and was runner-up for the 2015 MLS Golden Boot award with 22 goals.

This game could be won and lost in the midfield, and the Revs made a switch in their last game against Columbus by moving regular right back Je-Vaughn Watson to a central midfield spot in place of the injured Gershon Koffie, where he notched a team-high six tackles against the Crew. The likes of Watson, Scott Caldwell, and Lee Nguyen going up against a tough RSL midfield consisting of Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland, and Javier Morales should make for an intense battle in the middle third.

Lineups and absences

New England has a slew of missing players including Charlie Davis (adductor strain), Donnie Smith (hamstring strain), Juan Agudelo (knee sprain), Xavier Kouassi (knee surgery), and Gershon Koffie (knee sprain) who is listed as questionable for this weekend’s match-up. Koffie is also on a yellow card accumulation warning, so if he does end up playing he’ll need to be on the cautious side to avoid a suspension.

RSL will see captain Kyle Beckerman back from his one-game suspension due to yellow card accumulation, however Sunny is still out recovering from surgery to repair his facial fractures. Joao Plata missed the game in Vancouver on Wednesday due to a quad injury but is expected to be healthy enough to make the start against New England. Demar Phillips had a slight hamstring injury that kept him off the team sheet in Vancouver as well, but is expected to be back in action at home this weekend.

RSL expected lineup: Rimando; Phillips, Maund, Glad, Beltran; Beckerman, Morales, Mulholland; Plata, Movsisyan, Martinez

NE expected lineup: Shuttleworth; Tierney, Goncalves, Woodberry, Farrell; Rowe, Watson, Nguyen, Caldwell, Bunbury; Kamara