Last year, the New England Revolution ended the season with 55 points, the second highest mark in club history. This year, the team will return the majority of its core with hopes of making it back to the MLS Cup Final. The Revs are being heavily touted as the favorites in the Eastern Conference, but will they be able to eclipse last year's point total?
Over/Under: The Revolution will collect 55.5 points in 2015.
The Revs will enter the 2015 as the favorites in a reportedly weak Eastern Conference. What happens on paper, however, doesn't always match what happens in reality. Take 2013, when the Revolution went 1-1-1 against a D.C. United team that only managed three victories the entire year. The 55 points collected by the Revs in 2014 was the second highest total in club history (they amassed 59 in 2005) and it it will be difficult to surpass this number because of the parity in MLS.
The Revs have a strong returning core for 2015, but there are still some areas that need to be addressed. Charlie Davies can't be expected to shoulder the load all season at the forward position, so 1-2 serviceable back-ups/replacements will be needed. Additionally, it still seems that A.J. Soares will be leaving for Italy and that Andrew Farrell will most likely slide in centrally to pair with Jose Goncalves. This leaves a big hole at right back that I'm not so optimistic can be filled by Darrius Barnes or Kevin Alston. Aside from these roster issues, the Revs will be facing a re-tooled Eastern conference. With Chicago and Columbus most notably bringing in reinforcements this offseason and of course the addition of two new expansion teams, there will be a lot of adjusting to do. Plus the Revs will have to hope that Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones come into 2015 the same way they left 2014--firing on all cylinders. I think there's more working against the Revs this season and while I still think they'll make the playoffs, I don't see them getting as many points as last year and don't see them repeating as Eastern Conference champs.
Pundits are predicting the Revs to come back stronger than ever and play the favorite in the Eastern Conference. First of all, the East is losing teams to re-alignment with Orlando and NYCFC joining in, and Houston and SKC moving west. That works in favor of a weaker conference and therefore more points, but both expansion clubs could be contenders come First Kick. Furthermore, not too many teams break that 60-point barrier, and 55 points is awfully close to that mark. Is an over doable? Sure. But it's not necessarily realistic. I don't see the Revs improving on that point total in 2015.
Go big or go home! 56 points from 34 MLS games averages out to 1.65 PPG. Real Salt Lake got that total out West in 2014 with a 15W-8L-11D record, something that shouldn't be out of reach for the Revs in 2015 with a full year of Jones in the midfield. Even if the Revs lose both Jones and Nguyen for the Gold Cup this summer for however long (4-5 games over a month or so), I don't see the Revs losing 13 games next year. So is this a team that can win 17 games again and tie just one more game than last year (Revs overall record was 17W-13L-4T) to get me over the top? I say yes. Plus, SKC and Houston moving out West eliminates two good teams with the replacements being two probably average teams in NYCFC and Orlando. But average in the East probably means fighting for a play-in spot, so I still think the East will be competitive. Still, the Revs already have a foothold coming out of 2014 and I expect them to compete for not only the East, but also MLS Cup and a CCL berth as well.