Scouting Report: New England
After a three week break in MLS action, the Black & Gold returned to training on Tuesday ahead of this weekend's clash in New England. Here are a few things to know about the Crew's next opponent:
HEAPS AT THE HELM
Following Steve Nicol's departure in the offseason, New England named former defender Jay Heaps as the club's next head coach. Heaps has brought the same fire and intensity he had as a player from the field to the touchline.
"Jay is a passionate guy," Heaps' former competitor and Crew assistant technical director Duncan Oughton said of the first-year head coach. "He's got the club in his heart and you can see that passion on the sideline. At this point in time, it looks like he's instilled that passion in his team."
A third of the way through the 2012 season, Heaps has New England in sixth-place of the MLS Eastern Conference. The Revolution sits just two points behind the Crew in fourth-place.
NEW FACES IN NEW ENGLAND
The Revolution's success so far this season has been largely due to the in-flux of several key offseason additions such as French striker Saer Sene and Vietnamese Super League star Lee Nguyen to aid Benny Feilhaber in the attack. Sene has scored seven times in 2012 to lead the Revolution, while Nguyen has added two goals and a pair of assists himself.
With the third overall pick in the 2012 MLS Superdraft, the Revolution selected midfielder Kelyn Rowe from UCLA to help bolster the team's attack. While Rowe's statistics aren't gaudy, he made quite an impact for New England helping fellow playmakers Nguyen and Feihaber to create chances in New England's final third.
As two of Major League Soccer's nine remaining charter members, the Crew has had the upper hand on New England since the league's inception in 1996 with a 28-16-10 regular season advantage. In the last five seasons, the Black & Gold has lost just twice to the Revolution in 11 matches.
What's more, the Crew has lost only once since 2006 on the turf at Gillette Stadium. Speaking of turf, Columbus is undefeated this season on artificial surfaces with a win in Seattle and a draw in Portland. The Crew will look to continue that trend on Saturday.