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MLS preview: San Jose Earthquakes at New England

Jul 6, 2013, 8:20 AM EDT

New England Revolution v Seattle Sounders Getty Images
  • San Jose is playing on the road for the second time in four nights
  • Temperatures in the area will climb into the 90s, so conditions on the artificial turf could be downright brutal at kickoff
  • New England must replace injured striker Juan Agudelo

After that soft opening to 2013, when goals were so doggone hard to come by, New England has stabilized and pulled into mid-pack status in the East.

Riding the offensive surge of young Diego Fagundez and the tight defense of Jose Goncalves (starting to pick up some mentions as possible MLS Defender of the Year), Jay Heaps’ team is 3-1-3 in MLS matches since mid-May.

San Jose’s mini-revival of late is more humble, still. But it is a mini-revival. Two wins in four tries under interim manager Mark Watson (especially considering the other two contests were one-goal setbacks on the road) have breathed some fresh life into the bunch from Buck Shaw.

The timing, on the other hand, cannot be to San Jose’s liking. When the kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Gillette Stadium, it will be the Earthquakes second road date in four nights.

Considering temperatures expected to climb into the 90s in the Boston area on Saturday, conditions on the artificial turf at Gillette could be brutal – especially for the team that traveled in on Thursday.

While San Jose copes with potential fatigue, New England has been idle since last week’s 1-1 draw at Chivas USA.

The Revs will, however, deal with the business of replacing injured striker Juan Agudelo. Heaps’ choices to oppose big San Jose center back Victor Bernardez include Chad Barrett, Dimitry Imbongo and Jerry Bengtson.  Heaps could also move Saer Sene further ahead in the formation; he has been playing along the outside.

Barrett has been a nice addition on the bench lately, making a strong case for the start. Then again, by doing so Heaps would remove his top option for a striker who can clearly be effective off the bench. The MLS journeyman has two goals in four games since returning from a hamstring injury.

Watson’s striker pairing should be well-rested, at least. Alan Gordon and Adam Jahn played up front in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss at Toyota Park, leaving Steven Lenhart fresh for Saturday. Shea Salinas also returns from suspension.

MLS Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski and speedy winger Marvin Chavez are not available, away on Gold Cup duty.

“Any time we set off on a road trip and are missing five starters from the match before, you are behind the 8-ball already,” ‘Quakes center back Jason Hernandez said. “We are lucky we have a good team that has guys that can fill those holes. But it’s a battle.  It’s going to take another strong effort mentally and physically in Boston and we’re going to have to keep grinding and push for a win because time is running short.”

We’ve already mentioned the pair to watch in particular for the Revs: Fagundez, just 18, is already in his third MLS season. He has five goals and four assists this year from that outside attacking spot in the Revs’ 4-1-4-1 preferred system, continuing to improve while brimming with even greater potential.

On the other hand, he can be thoughtlessly sloppy and inconsistent at times – or, exactly what you’d expect from an 18-year-old still learning the tricks of mental focus.

And then there is Goncalves, a big reason the Revs are 2-0-1 lately at Gillette without allowing a goal in that time.

The official league preview, stacked with facts, is here.

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