The Revolution have gone two months without a victory, plummeting down the MLS standings to seventh place in the Eastern Conference, outside of a playoff spot. Despite such a rough stretch, they remain in playoff contention, sitting just 4 points behind sixth-place Montreal with two games in hand.
The quest to make up ground begins again Saturday when the Portland Timbers come to Foxborough for the first time in two seasons. Portland has never won in Gillette Stadium, losing once in 2012 and playing to a trio of 1-1 draws.
New England’s struggles (0-6-2 since June 30) are reminiscent of a similar spell in late 2012 when the Revolution went winless in a club-record 10 straight games. They won just four times from the end of June that season, blowing several leads and dropping tight one-goal contests.
That was the team’s first season under coach Jay Heaps. Six years later, first-year coach Brad Friedel is in a similar situation, searching for solutions.
“In most all the games, we should be the ones getting the points,” Friedel said. “We have nine left now, and we have to get to winning ways against Portland.”
New England’s struggles reached a new low last Saturday in a frustrating 1-0 loss at Philadelphia. The Revolution looked like the better team for a majority of the match. The lone goal came on a video review that negated a Union offside. Philadelphia keeper Andre Blake made several big saves to preserve another clean sheet against New England.
“We’re still not out of it,” said midfielder Diego Fagundez. “For us, if we can get this stretch going, then we can get into the playoffs with a little momentum. It’s not the best situation right now, but with this team, I know we can definitely do it.”
In a league that’s all about getting hot at the right time, Portland knows just how important streaks can be. After going winless through their first five games this season, the Timbers rattled off a 15-match unbeaten run before going on a four-game losing streak through mid-August.
In its last match, Portland earned a 2-0 win at home Wednesday against Toronto. Saturday’s game will be the club’s third in seven days.
Playing a style similar to Philadelphia’s, the Portland offense runs through its creative central midfielders, most notably Diego Valeri, the reigning MLS MVP.
“They do flood the midfield with quite a few players and they do change their system often,” said Friedel. “They are a very good team but also a streaky team. Hopefully we can do ourselves a favor on the weekend.”