FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution haven’t clinched a playoff berth since 2009. But playoff soccer is on the brink of returning to Foxborough, depending on Sunday afternoon’s result.
The Revolution play the Crew in Columbus, Ohio, at 4 p.m. and are in control of their playoff destiny.
New England is fifth in the Eastern Conference with 48 points, ahead of the Houston Dynamo, who also have 48 points. The teams are equal on the first tiebreaker (13 wins each), but the Revolution have scored more goals (48 to 39), which is the second tiebreaker.
Houston plays at D.C. United on Sunday afternoon at 1:30, meaning the Revolution will know the result they need going into their game.
The importance of bringing playoff soccer back to New England would be a boost for more than just the team.
“It’s something you strive for as an organization, and when I say organization I mean that’s from fans to owners to players to staff — it’s everyone, because there’s support coming from all areas,” said Revolution coach Jay Heaps.
In the Revolution’s last three home games, against D.C. United Sept. 21, Houston Sept. 28, and Columbus Oct. 19, fans flocked to Gillette Stadium, each time establishing a season high for attendance. In fact, the game against Columbus marked the highest attendance (26,548) for a Revolution home game since Aug. 8, 2009.
Rookie midfielder Scott Caldwell, a native of Braintree who grew up watching the Revolution, knows what it would mean for the team to make the playoffs.
“It would be huge, not only being in the playoffs but also having that respect from around the league,” he said.
For Sunday’s game, the Revolution will have midfielder Lee Nguyen back after serving a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation.
If Heaps decides to play Nguyen, Caldwell or veteran Andy Dorman, who had an assist on the winning goal last week, will drop from the starting 11. But having more players to select from in the midfield won’t give Heaps a headache.
“We like having as many options as we can going into a game like this, and Lee certainly has been an option all year,” said Heaps. “It was unfortunate not to have him last game.”
Although the Revolution will play the Crew for the second time in eight days, rookie defender Andrew Farrell thinks the scheduling is beneficial, simulating a playoff scenario.
“I think it helps us a lot,” said Farrell. “It’s kind of like a playoff — you’re playing a team in back-to-back games, so you have to be ready to play in this kind of scenario, especially with so much on the line.”
Farrell is proud of how the Revolution have kept their focus this season, crediting the coaches for getting them this far.
“I think it starts with the coaching staff, keeping the energy going, the practices fun and entertaining,” said Farrell. “The fact that we’re in the mix for the playoffs shows everyone’s hard work this year.
“Now that we know we’re right above that playoff line, it’s do or die.”