To get you ready for this afternoon's match, here are the top five storylines from Foxborough.
A pair of former United players will be hopingto burn their ex-employer as Clyde Simms and Blake Brettschneider suit up forNew England this afternoon. Simmshas enjoyed a rebirth since signing with the Revs, and will likely pass thesuspended Shalrie Joseph today as the New England field player who has loggedthe most minutes in 2012.
NEXT GENERATION OF USA COACHING
Today's matchup will double as a showcase forthe future of American coaching. Ben Olsen (34) and Jay Heaps (35) are the two youngest coaches in MajorLeague Soccer and have quite a history of competing against each other. In addition to dozens of MLS battles,the duo met multiple times during their respective collegiate careers (Olsen95-97 at UVA and Heaps 95-98 at Duke).
Gillette Stadium's narrow field will leavelittle room for pleasantries this afternoon, as an already heated rivalry getsjammed into tight quarters. Add tothis the fact that both teams have a boatload of playmakers on the wings andthat New England has an artificial surface and today's match could easilybecome a helter-skelter affair.
Both Dwayne De Rosario and Hamdi Salihi haveyet to tally this season, but the duo expected to carry the scoring load forD.C. have come awfully close. Salihi slammed a shot off the crossbar against Seattle, and DeRo isalways just a moment of brilliance away from scoring. If either - or both - can open their account today, it wouldbe a huge boost for United's attack.
With the returns to health of Bill Hamid andAndy Najar, there are full-fledged battles for playing time all over thefield. Ben Olsen has plenty ofoptions and it'll be extremely interesting to see whom he goes with to startand what roles he has for the talent that remains on the bench. In a game likely to be decided in thelast half hour, expect a reserve to produce a difference-making play late.