The Revolution continue their busy second-to-last week of the regular season with their longest road trip of the year. They head to the Pacific Northwest Wednesday night to take on the Portland Timbers in one of the toughest environments in MLS.
The newly expanded Providence Park hasn’t been kind to the Revolution, who have scored just one goal there and have an 0-2-2 all-time mark. They have beaten the Timbers only one time since they joined MLS in 2011.
If New England is to lock up a playoff spot soon, some type of positive result will be needed. After going 11 straight games without a loss, the Revolution are just 1-2-5 since the start of August.
With playoff implications abounding for both teams, something has to give.
Here’s what the Revolution must do:
Play like the playoffs
The Revolution’s urgency seems to have dropped in recent weeks.
The Revolution have been fortunate in that other teams’ results have been helpful to them, but that can’t last forever. Four points over their final three games will clinch a postseason berth.
In fact, a Revolution victory would eliminate three teams in the East and put New England 6 points clear of the red line with two games to play.
On the Portland side, a loss could be devastating, as the Timbers are currently on the outside looking in at the playoff picture.
This is must-win for both teams. Who wants it more will dictate the outcome.
The Timbers have been weak on offense, having not scored in 273 minutes dating to a stoppage-time winner over Kansas City on Sept. 7.
They are wrapping up an unprecedented 10-game homestand but have gone just 4-4-1 and have been shut out four times.
It’s not for a lack of chances, however. The Timbers usually carry much of the possession. But opponents have largely figured out how to neutralize the Timbers, forcing shots from distance or rushed chances.
On the counter
One way opponents have succeeded in Portland this year, and especially as of late, is by engineering the counterattack to perfection. They often will dedicate as many as six players back to defend while keeping a few others in midfield as rovers ready to pounce on clearances.
For the Revolution, players such as Carles Gil and Cristian Penilla could be of service here. While they have been solid at getting the team upfield and into attacking positions, they have often passed up shooting chances to make an extra pass.
Gil and Penilla have good shooting technique and should trust themselves to finish off chances. It’s OK to be a little selfish.
Revolution vs. Timbers
■ When, where: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m., at Providence Park, Portland, Ore.
■ TV, radio: NBCSB, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Coaches: Revolution — Bruce Arena; Timbers — Giovanni Savarese.
■ Formations: Revolution — 4-4-2; Timbers — 4-2-3-1.
■ Goalkeepers: Revolution — Matt Turner; Timbers — Steve Clark.
■ Referee: Jair Marrufo.
■ Out: Revolution — D Edgar Castillo (ribs); Timbers — G Jeff Attinella (shoulder), D Modou Jadama (foot), D Julio Cascante (thigh).
■ Miscellany: The Revolution are winless in the series since 2012 when they picked up their only victory to date against the Timbers, 1-0 . . . The last three matches have all ended in 1-1 draws . . . The Timbers lead the series, 2-1-6 . . . Portland M Diego Valeri is second in MLS with 16 assists, including seven game-winning helpers . . . Revolution M Carles Gil is fourth with 14 assists.