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RSL vs. New England Revolution: Three Questions with The Bent Musket

Trying to get a handle on tonight’s match against New England? Let an expert guide you. Jake Catanese from The Bent Musket took some time today to give us the latest on New England Revolution.

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

1. RSL analyst Brian Dunseth recently described New England (and RSL) as a team that made mistakes but could typically outscore those mistakes. How accurate is that from your perspective?

I don't think that Dunny is wrong here, or at least I'm pretty sure I know what he's getting at. New England have struggled mightily on defense this year, allowing 33 goals and an MLS-worst negative 7 goal differential, which is strange considering that this is mostly the same starting defense group the Revs have had since 2013. Both goalkeepers, Bobby Shuttleworth and Brad Knighton, aren't exactly struggling either, it just seems that relatively simple passes and shots are finding their way into the back of the net this year and not getting scrambled away as Revs fans have been accustomed to seeing during their MLS Cup run a few years back.

The other issue, is that the Revs should be able to outscore those mistakes and well, sometimes they just don't. Before the Revolution traded for Kei Kamara there was a revolving door up front at the lone striker position due to injuries and thankfully the Revs are starting to get everyone back healthy with Charlie Davies in particular returning to training this week. I'm convinced Juan Agudelo has hit a post in every game he's started this year though I don't have actual stats to back that up. The Revs record accurately reflects their inconsistency in 2016 but they also have a handful of games where they've played really well and just didn't get a result which is very frustrating.

2. It's been some time since these two sides met — have you missed us? In all seriousness, this is one of the match-ups that's typically led to interesting soccer. Are you expecting that, or is there a less creative possibility I'm ignoring?

I think this has traditionally been a very fun and also close matchup, last year not withstanding as Jeff Attinella stood on his head last year and still let in four goals if I recall correctly. I'd certainly expect a return to a more "traditional" form tonight, since RSL won this matchup three years straight from 2012-14 with a 2-1 scoreline and it wouldn't shock me to see a scoreline like that. It's going to be fun watching these two attacking groups go back and forth to see what they can create, especially the two lone strikers in Mosvivyan and Kamara.

I will also note that there are many times I dread the "mirror match" for New England, going up against another 4-2-3-1 has always bothered me for some reason though the Revs did very well against Columbus last weekend overall. But the Crew were able to generate a lot of easy chances in that 3-1 New England win and I that's not exactly a potent Crew offense. RSL should be able to generate good shots and it will be up to the Revs to figure out how create their own against a team defense and keeper in Nick Rimando that I still think is one of the better groups in MLS.

3. You recently just came off a three-match losing streak. You struggled for much of the first third of the season. Why can New England still win this one? What are you looking for from your team?

The Revs have been a better team with Kei Kamara up front, though the don't always have the results to prove that, the consistency of Kei at lone striker has really helped the Revs and Lee Nguyen in particular. If the Revs offense is clicking I think this team can play with anyone in the league though I still have some questions about the defensive unit as a whole, most of the Revs issues seem to stem from small, individual mistakes that balloon into goals.

Against a team like RSL those little mistakes can't happen, because they will be punished. I'd like to see the Revs get out on the counter a little bit more and really use their speed to attack the RSL backline and their fullbacks in particular. Kei Kamara attracts a lot of attention which gives more space to guys like Nguyen and Diego Fagundez who are very dangerous on the ball, but there have been many games where that danger and space just haven't translated to good shots.

Lineup/Prediction

Brad Knighton; Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, London Woodberry, Andrew Farrell; Je-Vaughn Watson, Scott Caldwell; Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury; Kei Kamara

Keep an eye on where Je-Vaughn Watson lines up, because honestly it could be anywhere at this point. Centerback, right back, holding mid, Watson's versatility has been such a wonderful asset for this team and with Gershon Koffie out with a injury he's now the defacto "enforcer" next to Caldwell in the midfield which isn't a bad thing. Also I didn't mention Kelyn Rowe who did start against the Crew and played all 90 minutes but if he's in the lineup instead of a Fagundez or Bunbury that wouldn't shock me. Knighton keeps the starting keeper spot after a win last week.

RSL 2, Revs 2. I think this will be a fun game, there will be goals, maybe the Revs smash and grab a point late which is fine by me.