The New England Revolution is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the third straight season in rather inglorious fashion. With Orlando City paying a visit Saturday, New England will try to salvage its season while getting help from around the league.
The Revolution began the month of July with optimism after a 3-2 home win over D.C. United. But that positivity quickly faded when New England embarked on a nine-game winless run. With a 1-8-5 record over the last 14 games, the Revolution have faded to eighth place and have not won at home since that victory over D.C. United.
“We put ourselves in a big hole,” said Revolution coach Brad Friedel. “The only way to keep ourselves in [the playoff hunt] is by beating Orlando. It’s going to be a little bit of a mountain to climb now, but you can never stop fighting until the points aren’t there.”
New England’s playoff hopes hinge on victories in its remaining three games as well as losses by both Montreal and D.C. United. As the Revolution are 8 points out of a playoff spot, a loss in any of their remaining games means elimination from the playoff race.
With D.C. United unbeaten over its last six and Montreal playing sharp soccer as well, the page may have already turned to next season for New England. However, the team has remained optimistic.
“Miracles need to happen,” said Revolution midfielder Diego Fagundez. “We just need to focus on ourselves. I think with a win we can get this team together and end our season well.”
What has really been the team’s downfall was a string of poor results despite dominant performances in the second half of the season. The Revolution were the better team in losses to Minnesota away, as well as Philadelphia and the LA Galaxy at home.
But the biggest microcosm of the season lies in a 3-3 draw at Orlando Aug. 4.
New England started off strong with two goals in the opening 20 minutes. But Orlando battled back, scoring once before halftime and equalizing in the 71st minute. After the Revolution quickly retook the lead, Orlando tied it again late in second-half stoppage time.
“We definitely should have come away with 3 points,” said Friedel. “We should have put the game to bed in the first half. It’s up to us taking our chances when we get them and we have to put them away. It’s something we were doing the first half of the season and something we’ve stopped doing in the second half.”
Orlando enters this week’s game strapped for scoring, having gone four straight games without a goal. Although Orlando will be missing its attacking centerpiece Dom Dwyer (suspended, yellow cards), the Revolution will be without three starting defenders due to injury and international duty.
“It’s tough when guys are in and out,” said Revolution defender Brandon Bye. “Obviously it’s our job to sure it up as much as possible. Every team we play has good attackers, we try to neutralize those guys and go from there.”
Orlando City vs. Revolution
When, where: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Gillette Stadium, Foxborough.
■ TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM (98.5)
■ Formations: Orlando — 4-5-1; Revolution — 4-2-3-1;
■ Goalkeepers: Orlando — Joe Bendik; Revolution — Brad Knighton.
■ Coaches: Orlando — James O’Connor; Revolution — Brad Friedel.
■ Referee: Dave Gantar.
■ Out: Orlando — D Mohamed El-Munir (international duty), D Amro Tarek (international duty), D Jonathan Spector (back), M Yoshi Yotun (international duty), M Pierre Da Silva (knee), F Dom Dwyer (suspended), F Stefano Pinho (quad); Revolution — D Chris Tierney (knee), D Andrew Farrell (hamstring), D Antonio Delamea (international duty), M Zachary Herivaux (international duty).
■ Miscellany: Orlando has never won at New England, going 0-2-1 at Gillette Stadium . . . New England is 6-0-5 when Teal Bunbury scores this season . . . Orlando’s current 360-minute goal-less drought is the second longest in club history (380 minutes, August 2015)
Dan Shulman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DanielRShulman.