Now before you get all sour and adamantly exclaim that the Revs aren't in the hunt and haven't been for some time, I'll stop you right there and say, "I know". That being said, when you're out of the playoff race, you can do one of two things: play the kids and gain experience, or stay the course, keep going full out, and try to play spoiler.
For me, the latter is absolutely the way to approach a big rivalry matchup on the road, so as the Revs travel to RFK Stadium tonight to take on D.C. United, they should have one thing on their mind: playing the role of spoiler.
With only 6 matches left to play, and the race for the Eastern Conference playoffs at a fever pitch, let's get you up to speed on before today's matches.
With SEVEN teams vying for only FIVE spots, these final handful of games are massive. Sporting Kansas City lead the pack on 51 points, but even they aren't safe. 9 points separates 1st from 5th, and as we all know, victories are worth three points. So in essence, with only a 3 game lead, even the first place club can't relax just yet.
While Sporting Kansas City and Houston battled to a hard-fought 1-1 draw last night, there are a couple of fixtures you should absolutely have your eye on today:
COLUMBUS CREW @ NEW YORK RED BULLS - At the moment it's the Crew holding down the final playoff spot on 42 points, but with United and expansion side Montreal within reach, their journey to the East Coast is a very important one. Coming off a disappointing loss in Foxboro, Columbus needs to bounce back and earn a result against one of the better sides in MLS.
New York are coming off a long, 16-day layoff and are looking to bridge the gap between themselves and SKC with a big win at home. NYRB will be without starting keeper Ryan Meara who is out due to hip surgery, so it will be on the shoulders of Bill Gaudette to keep out the recently dangerous Crew attack. Perhaps most importantly, the Red Bulls expect both Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper in the lineup, bolstering their dangerous attack.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION @ DC UNITED - Two old, bitter rivals take the field in the nation's capital on Saturday night, and with United currently on the outside looking in, three points at home are a must against the struggling Revolution.
The Revs are coming off a hard-earned 2-0 victory over Columbus, and with their talismanic scorer Jerry Bengtson expected to return from international duty, New England should pose a challenge to their Eastern rivals given the relative health of the squad. The Revs could also unveil their most recent signing, Juan Toja, who's been training with the club trying to regain match fitness.
D.C. United are coming into the match after their playoff chances took a massive blow during the FIFA break when Dwayne De Rosario was lost for the rest of the campaign due to a knee injury. If United are to make the playoffs, they're going to need someone to step up and fill those big shoes in the center of the field. It's going to be up to the likes of Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, and Chris Pontius to pick up the slack and inspire United down the stretch.
MONTREAL IMPACT @ CHICAGO FIRE - You may not find a hotter team than Chicago in the East, and with a playoff spot looking likely, the Fire continue to sharpen their form down the stretch and will look to continue their run against the inspiring expansion side from Montreal. Perhaps the biggest storyline coming into this big encounter aside from it being Montreal's first ever trip to Toyota Park, is the dreadful away form of the Impact. Montreal are 2-11-1 away in the Eastern Conference for 7 points, and only New England are worse away from home. When you add to that the fact that Chicago are 10-0-1 in their last 11 at home against Eastern Conference opposition, it looks like a slam dunk for the Fire.
So there you have it, a look at the Eastern Conference playoff push, and while the Revs may not be actively fighting for a spot in the playoffs, they WILL have a huge say down the stretch with 4 of their final 6 matches against clubs that are currently in the playoff picture in the East.
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