MLS

New England Revolution v Inter Miami: Porter targets 'mini season' as Messi comes to town

By Sports Desk April 25, 2024

Coach Caleb Porter will treat the New England Revolution's next eight games as a "mini season", as the MLS strugglers prepare to welcome Inter Miami to Gillette Stadium on Saturday.

The Revs sit last in the Eastern Conference standings with just four points from their first eight games of 2024, having lost their last two against New York City (0-2) and Toronto FC (0-1).

Miami, meanwhile, are setting the pace in the East with 18 points from 10 matches, Lionel Messi scoring twice to help Gerardo Martino's team to a 3-1 win over Nashville SC last time out.

Having started to come under pressure just five months into his reign, Porter says the Revs should approach Saturday's match with a clean slate. 

"The first eight games weren't good enough in terms of our record, points, goals for, goals against," Porter said. "Bottom line, it wasn't good enough.

"Right now, it's almost a new mini season, these next eight games. What's our record going to be at the end of these eight games?"

Defender Nick Lima, meanwhile, called on the Revs to stay calm as he pointed out how quickly things can change in MLS.

"Things happen fast in this league, man," he said. "We're one or two games away, then you're fighting for a playoff spot already, and who knows what happens from there?"

The Revs could be in luck for Saturday's match, with reports suggesting the artificial turf used in Foxborough could cause Miami to think twice about risking some of their stars.

Jordi Alba is injured and Luis Suarez may be held back, given his history of knee issues, but Miami full-back Julian Gressel expects Messi to feature.

"I will ask when we're preparing for the game, but I'm sure we'll find out who will be available," Gressel said during an appearance on the Player/Manager podcast.

"But he [Suarez] is the only one who has a question mark. Of course, Alba's hurt."

Asked if Martino may decide against risking Messi, he added: "Not from what I've heard."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

New England Revolution – Tomas Chancalay

New England are the lowest scoring team in MLS with just five goals this year, despite attempting 14 shots per match, above the league average of 12.8. The Revs' 4.5 per cent conversion rate is the worst in MLS, with every other team scoring with at least 7 per cent of their shots this year.

Chancalay has been one of the Revs' worst offenders, failing to score a single goal from a team-high tally of 22 shots this year, totalling 2.31 expected goals (xG). He has also missed a team-high four big chances this campaign, as defined by Opta.

Inter Miami – Lionel Messi 

Messi has contributed to a goal in nine straight matches in all competitions, scoring nine goals and recording five assists in total, the second time he has enjoyed such a run since joining Miami (also doing so between June 21 and August 26 last year).

The Argentina great has contributed to at least one goal in 19 of his first 23 appearances for Miami in all competitions (20 goals, 10 assists). As ever, if Messi plays, everything will go through him.

MATCH PREDICTION – NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION WIN

With four points from eight matches, New England have made their worst start to a season in club history. 

Their 1-0 defeat to Toronto last time out was their sixth of the campaign, one more than they suffered during the entirety of the 2021 season, when they won the Supporters' Shield (22 wins, seven draws, five defeats). 

However, they may just feel home advantage gives them a chance of upsetting Messi and company on Saturday. After the visiting team won both meetings between the Revs and Miami in the 2021 season, the home side won all four meetings across the following two campaigns. 

New England's three victories over the Herons have come by a combined scoreline of 10-1, while Miami's three wins over the Revs have all come by one-goal margins (6-3 on aggregate). 

Miami have only won two of their last eight away league matches (two draws, four defeats), and given the likelihood of at least one of their big names being rested, the Revs may fancy their chances.

Should Messi be rested, Miami have only won one of their four matches without him in MLS this season (one draw, two losses), taking one point per game compared to 2.3 with the Argentine. 

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

New England Revolution – 54.2%

Inter Miami – 20.4%

Draw – 25.4%

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