It’s a busy weekend here at the Soccer Sentinel, so let’s get right to it.
Revolution II kicks off this busy weekend Friday night when it welcomes Forward Madison to Gillette Stadium (7 p.m., ESPN+). Madison currently sits fifth in the USL League One table at 2-2-2 with two matches in hand, while the Revolution sit 11th.
Madison is a pretty dynamic team, given its 3-1 win two weekends ago against Orlando City B; it did not play last weekend as it postponed its match with North Texas to protest the Jacob Blake shooting in nearby Kenosha. In that match, two different players scored, sandwiching them around a 55th minute own goal.
And while they are dynamic, when Paulo, Jr. is on the pitch, Madison will try to feed him the ball at every opportunity. He’s on the left at the No. 7, and during that OCB match, Madison used over the top balls to try to free him. Orlando City, however, did contain him in his 68 minutes. Paulo, Jr. is a right footer and has a good burst of acceleration.
Defensively, Madison’s strikers didn’t press against Orlando City. It’s when the ball gets into the midfield do things change, as Madison will look to make Revolution II’s life difficult.
Madison’s XI against Orlando City was as follows in a 4-3-3: Chris Brady; Eli Lockaby, Connor Tobin, Gustavo Fernandez, Christian Diaz; I.C. Banks, Eric Leonard, Michael Yang; Paulo, Jr, Wojceich Wojcik, Alex Monis.
Madison did acquire midfielder Adolfo Ovalle from Toronto II this week, and we’re not expecting to see him. We are wondering, however, if Don Smart will make the trip to Foxborough, as he does like to connect with Paulo, Jr.
In short, the job of Revolution II this weekend will be to slow Paulo, Jr. down. They can also attack hard on the counter, as shown in their third goal against OCB.
The first team Revolution, however, have a trip to Chicago on their hands slated for Sunday (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Boston). The Fire, suffice it to say, are not playing so hot this season, coming off a scoreless draw to FC Cincinnati on Wednesday night, while the Revs need to have short memories and get what has to be considered a critical three points.
Chicago had tinkered with a 4-1-4-1 formation prior to the pandemic, and went with that formation against New England when it visited Gillette for the home opener on March 7. In the first two matches, coach Raphael Wicky utilized midfielder Brandt Bronico out of position as a right back; in the season opener, Seattle had exposed him, but the Revs did not.
Against Cincinnati, Bronico was on the bench with Boris Sekulic in at right back. Bronico did have a run-out against New York City two weeks ago, but in the midfield. Suffice it to say, Wicky isn’t putting Bronico at right back, and the Fire’s defending is now allegedly stronger.
However, with five losses, Chicago is leaking in goals, and this is the perfect opponent to give the Revolution attacking corps the opportunity to get confident. They’ve yielded a conference-high 14 goals — and nearly a 15th, that coming in the Revs’ home opener.
While Revs Colony wants to see Adam Buksa deliver the goods and the goals, wouldn’t this game be a good opportunity to give Homegrown striker Justin Rennicks redemption and confidence? Rennicks missed an absolute sitter against the Fire in the home opener, and in the post-match forays in the changing room, Rennicks stood dejected in the aftermath. He stared deep into his locker’s depths, as if searching for the answers.
Giving him the confidence to get tat one back would go a long way.
For Chicago, Robert Beric is the point man up top. Both he and Maurico Pineda have scored twice, and it will be up to the Revolution defense to know where they are at all times. Alvaro Madran and Fabian Herbers are itching with the trigger foot, too.
ELSEWHERE IN THE LEAGUE
MLS action for the weekend starts up Saturday, as Houston hosts Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City hosts suddenly depleted Atlanta United (8 p.m., FOX), Vancouver hosts Toronto, and San Jose hosts Colorado.
On Sunday, DC United hosts New York City, the Red Bulls host Philadelphia, Columbus hosts Cincinnati in the Hell Is Real Derby, Minnesota United hosts Real Salt Lake, Inter Miami hosts Nashville (8 p.m., FS1), Seattle hosts Portland in a Cascadia Derby, and then it’s El Trafico between Galaxy and LAFC (10:30 p.m., UniMas).
ELSEWHERE IN LEAGUE ONE
South Georgia Tormenta hosts Greenville tonight. Fort Lauderdale takes on Chattanooga Saturday night while FC Tucson hosts Richmond.
On Sunday night, Union Omaha hosts Orlando City B. North Texas has the week off.
AROUND THE REGION
The Taça de Fall River kicks off Saturday afternoon with the first of two legs slated to start at 3 p.m. Fall River FC is your host for the first leg against the Fall River Marksmen. That will occur at Bliss Field in Rehoboth. Bliss Field is on Route 118; quite possibly the best way to get there would be Interstate 95 to Route 123, follow 123 /Thatcher Street to Oak Hill Avenue. Take a left onto Oak Hill and follow it to Route 118, follow 118 to Bliss Field, which will be on your right.
The second leg is set for October 14 at the Marksmen.
Down the street in Hartford, Hartford Athletic hosts Loudan United at 7 p.m. Saturday at Dillon Stadium. HA are second in the Group F pod to Pittsburgh, which beat Hartford, 3-0, last weekend.
We’ll leave you with this: Carles Gil doing rehab work on his Achilles.