After an away-day draw first time out, New England Revolution look to claim their first three points of the season when they host D.C. United at Gillette Stadium (8pm ET Saturday). Can the hosts get the job done? Or will the visitors make it two wins from their first two matches? Read on for our predictions, preview & betting picks for this MLS game.
New England kicked off their campaign by drawing 2-2 at Colorado last weekend. In a game not devoid of goalmouth action, head coach Bruce Arena probably wouldn’t have been too disappointed with a share of the spoils. The Revs played some exciting soccer, while they created chances, enough to deserve their two goals, as an expected-goals-for number of 1.9 suggests, but they weren’t overly secure at the back, giving away 2.2 expected goals. Over the last year or so, New England have made a name for themselves as a side that isn’t easy to get the better of. They will probably need to do a bit more than they did on the opening weekend in the defensive third if they are to retain that tag.
First time out, D.C. United emerged victorious from a home fixture against New York City, winning by two goals to one. In an even first half, the hosts found themselves a goal down, though two goals in the space of five minutes just before half time saw to it that new head coach Hernan Losada collected all three points from his first MLS game. The worry for D.C. fans could be that their side surrendered lots of possession, even on home soil, while they were certainly second best in terms of creativity. An expected goal difference of -0.9 doesn’t exactly paint the Black-and-Red in the most favorable shade, that’s for sure.
Sturdy under Arena
Before decorated coach Bruce Arena took the reins at Gillette Stadium, New England were a franchise stuck in something of a rut. However, that is no longer the case. Having joined mid-way through the 2019 campaign, Arena inspired an upward surge, so much so that the Revs reached the play-offs, something that they did not do in 2018. In his first full season in charge, the man with no fewer than five MLS Cups in his trophy cabinet led New England to another play-off campaign.
The whole point of the campaign is to reach the post-season, and Arena has done that at every opportunity since arriving in New England, though it is more about the way that he has achieved this. With perhaps a less stylish outlook than say a Philadelphia or a Toronto, New England have become a relatively sturdy unit under Arena’s guidance. Last term they ground out results, were tough to beat at home and they made a habit of putting points on the board at critical times. Not a side that scores lots of goals, the Revs can frustrate teams, which is why only three teams conceded fewer goals in the Eastern Conference. Impressively, and very interestingly, no Eastern Conference team surrendered fewer expected goals than New England at home last season.
Bogey team for DC
While New England improved last term, reaching the playoffs, D.C. regressed, going from finishing fifth in the East and reaching the play-offs in 2019, to finishing 13th and never threatening to make the post season. Such form saw the Black-and-Red part ways with boss Ben Olsen.
Furthermore, this is a fixture that D.C. have struggled in over the last few years. In fact, they have not beaten New England Revolution since 2018. That may not sound that bad, though the pair have met six times since that 2-0 victory at Audi Field. New England have won each of the last three renewals of this fixture, while they haven’t lost a home match against D.C. since 2012.
One thing that has been on the menu when the pair have faced off at this venue in recent campaigns is goals. The Revs won a seven-goal thriller here last year, while both teams have scored in each of the last five at Gillette Stadium. More than three match goals have been scored in four of those five.
Support home skipper in the betting
The early betting lines, with the sports betting sites for Americans, ahead of this fixture suggest that New England really ought to get the job done on Saturday evening. In truth, it’s hard to argue with that. Those looking for a likely winner ahead of the weekend action shouldn’t look much further than the Revs, who really ought to win this match, though that is very much built into the odds.
Those looking for something a bit tastier than the -150 that is currently available on the home win, should take a punt on New England captain Carles Gil to get on the scoresheet. The Spaniard’s 2020 season was hugely interrupted by injury, so much so that he appeared just ten times throughout the campaign, though we shouldn’t forget how useful the attack-minded midfielder was during the 2019 campaign, when he found the net 10 times.
The 28-year-old showed he still retains an eye for goal when notching against LAFC in New England’s final warm-up game less than a fortnight ago. Drifting right across the midfield and picking up spaces in between the opposition midfield and defence, Gil is a player known for his ability to hit the target from range, while he is also the man tasked with taking penalties.
Against a D.C. defence that looked anything but astute last weekend, and that conceded the third-highest expected goals total away from home in the Eastern Conference last term, the home captain is backed to score his first competitive goal of the 2021 season. So the conclusion of our New England Revolution vs DC United predictions for this MLS game preview is this one betting pick: