D.C. United v New England Revolution: Preview and prediction
Bruce Arena is satisfied with New England Revolution's start to the season, though warned the opening four games of a campaign cannot be used to judge how his team will go on to perform.
The Revolution won MLS' Supporters' Shield in 2021 yet struggled last season, finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference.
New England have started this season strongly, however, winning three of their opening four games, albeit their sole defeat came in a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of reigning MLS Cup champions Los Angeles FC.
A 1-0 win over Nashville SC saw New England return to winning ways last week, and though Arena was not entirely happy with the performance, he cannot complain over his team's start to 2023.
"In the last 10 minutes we didn't do a good job defending the lead, we were a bit too negative, but after four games, to have three wins – it's a pretty good start to the season," he told reporters.
"For the most part we've improved this year. We played well [against Nashville]. In the first half we played very well. For 75 minutes it was really good. I didn't like the last 10-15 minutes but overall it was a good performance against a good team."
Arena, though, did bluntly add: "The first four games of the season means absolutely nothing."
Next up for New England are Wayne Rooney's D.C. United, who lost 3-2 at New York City FC last time out.
D.C. United signed midfielder Lewis O'Brien on loan from Nottingham Forest this week, with Rooney saying: "Lewis has been one of the best players in the Championship over the last few seasons.
"He reads the game well and creates goalscoring opportunities. Bringing him in on loan from Nottingham Forest was a great bit of business for us and he will be a brilliant addition to our midfield."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
D.C. United – Christian Benteke
Christian Benteke has netted twice in MLS this season, including D.C. United’s first goal in their loss in New York City. Benteke scored with his only attempt on target, with the striker hitting a further two off target and also creating one chance.
New England Revolution – Gustavo Bou
Bou scored the lone goal in New England's 1-0 win over Nashville on Saturday. He has scored 41 goals in the regular season and play-offs since debuting for New England in mid-2019, 10 more than any other Revs player under Arena.
MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW
With nine points through four matches (W3 L1), the Revolution are off to their second-best start in club history (10 points in 2005).
D.C., meanwhile, are unbeaten in their first two home matches this season, picking up a win over Toronto FC and a draw against Columbus Crew. They have not gone three straight home matches without defeat since a five-match run in August-September 2021 (W4 D1).
New England won the last MLS meeting between the teams, emerging victorious 1-0 at Gillette Stadium last season. Carles Gil scored for the Revs, though the playmaker did not feature against Nashville due to injury.
OPTA WIN PROBABILITY
D.C. United – 34.6 per cent
New England Revolution – 36.7 per cent
Draw – 28.7 per cent