Based on their current form in the regular season of MLS, the New England Revolution are not a playoff team after a 4-0 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Union last night.
The Revs are currently on a three game losing streak in MLS, with all three losses coming to teams fairly close to them in the Eastern Conference standings. The Union now hold an eight point lead over the Revs in the East and are now in fourth place to New England’s seventh. Despite a loss three weeks ago to Orlando City, the Lions are now tied on 26 points with the Revs though OCSC has two games in hand including one today against Chicago.
Were it not for the US Open Cup final later in September, date still unconfirmed, the Revs season would be teetering on the brink of outright disaster. Were it not for the woeful Eastern Conference as a whole, there would be almost zero chance for a team averaging just over one point a game to make the playoffs.
CJ Sapong opened the scoring barely two minutes into the match as he made a neat finish following a long run from Fabinho. Several Revs players stopped thinking Fabinho had carried the ball over the sideline for a throw-in but the ball did stay in play and Fabinho went mostly unopposed into Revs territory to set up Sapong.
In the second half the Revs gave up two quick goals Chris Pontius got involved, lashing home a loose ball in the 51st and then setting up Richie Marquez in the 54th. The only happy moment for the Revs was towards the end of the game when former striker Charlie Davies subbed in, and he set up Roland Alberg in stoppage time for the Union’s fourth goal of the match.
Here’s three thoughts on the match...
1. Revs Defense Continues to Get Worse
I am not sure how two All-Star caliber fullbacks, a former MLS defender of the year at centerback can continue to struggle like this. Yes, I know the Revs don’t exactly use another true centerback next to Jose Goncalves but at this point until someone new walks through that door, I expect to see more of Je-Vaughn Watson (the Revs best player since July) and London Woodberry (very serviceable defender) in the backline.
The Revs defense has a two fold problem, one that might be fixable and another that’s just there. This is a team that gives up a lot of goals and for that matter, a lot of easy goals. Take Sapong’s opener for example, the Revs made a mistake by not playing to the whistle, that’s on them. But Sapong himself is marked fairly well and all he does is make a simple diagonal run to open up the backline.
Both of these traits, the Revs shutting off and simple attacking, have undone the New England defense basically all season. To even attempt to describe what happened on the second and third goals would be a waste of my time. There haven’t been many adjustments, aside from returning Andrew Farrell to right back, in the Revolution’s defensive system and I don’t know how to fix it at this point. I don’t think it’s entirely the personnel, we’ve seen them have good games this year but something stinks and it needs to be found quickly.
2. Charlie Davies’ Return
The only positive moment of this game was with about ten minutes to go, former Revs striker Charlie Davies returned to the Gillette Stadium field. With The Fort chanting his name down by three, it was a fitting tribute to the local hero who then added onto the Revs misery on the scoreboard by setting up new teammate Roland Alberg for the Union’s final goal.
That substitution proves just how valuable Davies could’ve been for the Revs in the closing months of the season and now Philly has added a weapon to their bench. I stand by my earlier column on the Davies trade: I understand why the deal the was made and I’m really happy for Charlie.
But the pressure is still on for the front office to make a move before the roster freeze in September.
3. Open Cup Or Bust?
It’s about time we asked whether or not the Revs season now hangs in the balance of the yet to be finalized, late September US Open Cup Final in Dallas. The Revs are still within striking distance of a playoff spot though another one-and-done playoff appearance after making the 2014 MLS Cup Final won’t do much to inspire a fanbase after another forgettable season with higher expectations.
With a victory in the USOC final, the Revs would qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League, and I think that this team could do very well in that competition next year if they qualify. While qualification for the CCL is a tremendous accomplishment as is winning the USOC, does that excuse the absolutely miserable regular season the Revs are having in MLS?
Leave your thoughts, and probably rants, in the comments below.