Urgency will be high for the Revolution as they look to snap a five-game winless run Saturday night when they face the Philadelphia Union at Gillette Stadium. A loss would be especially costly, as it would allow the Union to pass New England for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, knocking the Revolution out of playoff position.
While New England has clung to sixth place while enduring yet another summer slump, the Union have gained ground, going 2-2 in their last four. Despite the recent poor results, the Revolution remain optimistic, taking a lot of positives from this stretch.
“These sorts of things happen,” said Revolution coach Brad Friedel. “There’s absolutely nothing to panic about here. The players need to realize how good they are and focus for the 90-plus minutes, and I’m sure we’re going to have a host of wins to see out the rest of the season.”
The biggest issue has been blowing late leads. On five occasions, New England has led deep in the second half, only to concede soft goals. The most recent meltdown came last weekend in Orlando. After storming out to a 2-0 lead, the Revolution sat back and Orlando capitalized, sealing a draw with a late goal off a free kick.
In the five games in which the Revolution blew leads, they went 0-1-4. Instead, they are left to fight for their playoff lives down the stretch.
Saturday is a huge opportunity not just because of the opponent. This will be the only home game for New England in the month of August.
“It’s vital,” said midfielder Scott Caldwell. “Any time you get a chance in this part of the season, playing a team right by you in the standings, and with our limited home games, we have to take advantage of it and get the 3 points at home.”
The Revolution will play Philadelphia again on the road in two weeks.
They are hoping for better results than they got in their first trip to Talen Energy Stadium back in March on opening night. They not only lost that game, 2-0, but had Claude Dielna and Antonio Delamea sent off in the process.
While the teams were well rested for that match in March, the Union have had a packed schedule recently, competing Wednesday in the US Open Cup semifinals. Philadelphia earned a 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire to seal a spot in the final against the Houston Dynamo.
With the added advantage of rest, the Revolution are hoping for a fresh start against a stingy Union squad.
“It’s probably the biggest game of the year so far,” said forward Juan Agudelo. “Last time we played them, they caused us problems. They’ve got good wide guys that can attack our defenders, so we’ve got to be aware of that.”
Revolution vs. Union
■ When, where: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Gillette Stadium, Foxborough.
■ TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Coaches: Revolution -- Brad Friedel; Union -- Jim Curtin
■ Formations: Revolution — 4-2-3-1; Union — 4-3-3.
■ Goalkeepers: Revolution — Matt Turner; Union — Andre Blake.
■ Referee: Allen Chapman.
■ Out: Revolution — D Chris Tierney (knee); Union — D Mark McKenzie (knee), M Ilsinho (quadriceps).
■ Miscellany: Philadelphia leads the all-time series, 11-6-4 . . . The Union have won four of the last five meetings, all by shutout, with the last Revolution win coming at home last July (3-0) . . . Cristhian Machado made his Revolution debut last week in Orlando, coming on as a substitute in the 87th minute to complete two passes and a defensive clearance.
Dan Shulman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DanielRShulman.