By Kevin Koczwara
Major League Soccer doesn’t just crown a champion at the end of the season if the team is at the top of the MLS standings. No, the regular season allows teams to qualify for the MLS cup playoffs. Teams have to finish in the top half of the league to qualify for the end of the season tournament in the hopes of being crowned kings of American soccer.
Currently, the New England Revolution are on the outside looking in at the playoff crowd in 12th position with eight games left to play. Of the eight games remaining on the Revolution’s schedule, three are at home and five are away.
The Revs have a horrid away record this season, and they will need to improve on it quickly if they want to make any sort of push toward a playoff spot. The Revolution is 1-8-1 on the road this season, the one win was a 2-0 victory over last place D.C. United in the second game of the year back on April 3.
The next three games are vital for the Revs if they want to make their ninth-straight playoff appearance. The Revolution head to Los Angeles to take on Chivas USA on Friday night. Chivas is only two points behind the Revolution in the standings despite being last in the Western Conference. The Revs took a good thumping from the Galaxy on May 5, losing 4-0 at home. New England will try to repay the favor when it heads to L.A. with a dire need for three points if it plans to keep pace with Dallas, Seattle, Kansas City, Chicago and Toronto.
The Revs might have a better chance at obtaining points when they take on Colorado, which is already holding down a playoff spot, when they travel to the Rockies after leaving the smoggy air of L.A. The Revs lost 2-1 to the Rapids at home earlier this season and will need to take home a win if they want to catch the steady Rapids.
After the Rapids the Revolution go to Texas to take on an FC Dallas side that just doesn’t lose. The Hoops are 10-2-10 on the season. Dallas’s tendency to fight for points makes this game on the Revs’ road trip the most difficult.
To make the trip a successful one the Revolution will have to build on what they did this past Saturday.
Revolution ends Sounders unbeaten streak
New England (7-12-3, 24 pts.) rallied to a 3-1 win at home over a surging Seattle Sounders team (9-9-5 32 pts.). The come-from-behind win was only the second this season for the Revs and the first since April 10 when the club came from behind to beat Toronto FC 4-1. The loss ended Seattle’s seven-game unbeaten streak in the league (5-0-2, 17 pts.)
The Revs scored three goals in 11 minutes in the second half of Saturday’s game to take a two-goal lead after a Steve Zakuani goal gave the Sounders the lead in the 57th minute. But the Revolution had chances and were bound to finish a few of them, sooner or later.
“It’s just a matter of getting the ball in the net, simple as that. We had a couple of decent chances in the first half, I thought,” said Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney after the game. “We played some good stuff tonight. We just – the story of the season – we just couldn’t, that last ball was just missing a little bit.
“We knew that if we just stuck to it, with the way we were playing tonight creating chances, we were going to score goals eventually,” he added.
Eventually would be sooner than Tierney could have expected as he notched his first career goal in the 70th minute to bring the Revolution level and jump start the teams comeback.
Marko Perovic added to his team-high in goals with his sixth of the season in the 73rd minute when he picked up a loose ball and slipped it past Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller. The Revolution took a 2-1 lead in a matter of minutes and the goal marked the first time since a June 7 win over the Galaxy that the team scored more than one goal in a game.
Kheli Dube finished off the scoring in the 81st minute with his first goal of the year, giving the Revolution the cushion the team needed going into the final minutes of the game.
New England needed this win after dropping two games last week. The team lost a heart-breaker last Saturday to the Philadelphia Union when it surrendered two late goals to the expansion team. Then the Revolution could have brought home a major piece of silverware on Wednesday night when the club took on Mexican side Monarcas Morelia in the SuperLiga final. Both games ended with a 2-1 scoreline with the Revolution on the losing end, but both could have easily gone the other way.
“I think it speaks for itself after the week we’ve had,” said Steve Nicol about the win after the game and how the Revolution responded to falling behind in the second half to the Sounders. “We basically got robbed the three points last weekend. We were real unfortunate on Wednesday in the [SuperLiga] final. But to come back from those two games – the third game in eight days – and go about it the way we did I think says all we need to know about the players and their attitude and the commitment and how they stick together. It was fantastic.”
The Revs need to stick together as they travel West for the next three games and get some more positive results like this past weekend’s. It won’t be easy to make the playoffs or push for a spot in the playoffs for the Revolution, but if they can stick together and keep fighting like they did on Saturday then the team could find itself in prime position to make a final push for a playoff spot and make it nine seasons in a row that New England fans get to see the club making another attempt to bring home the MLS Cup.
Kevin Koczwara is a contributing editor and writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at kevin.koczwara@TheSoccerGuysOnline.com.