With so much of the focus on last week’s loss to LAFC ending the New England Revolution’s 11-match unbeaten streak, it was easy to forget that it was also the Revs’ first loss against the West in 2019.
If my math is correct, New England has racked up 20 of its 33 points against the Western Conference this year with a 6W-1L-2D record. These results have kept them afloat in the East, where by contrast (also assuming my math is correct) current top Eastern seed Philadelphia Union have just 9 points out of their 42 against the West.
New England has four home games left this year and three games remaining against the Western Conference. Besides tomorrow’s Seattle matchup, Real Salt Lake will visit Gillette on September 21st followed by a quick turnaround and cross-country flight to Portland. Assuming the Revs will need at least 10 or more points from their remaining home games, a couple more results against the West would do wonders for their playoff hopes.
That is easier said than done however, because Seattle is outstanding at home and boast an 8-2-2 record so far at CenturyLink this year. Portland have only played 6 matches at home so far but with a back loaded schedule at Providence Park, they could also be a team like New England who can surge up the standings late in the year.
Still, a couple of results or just two points from these two West Coast games could be the difference the Revs need to make the playoffs. Of course the Revs home-and-home series in September with NYCFC will be far more important to the Eastern Standings specifically. But with the success the Revs have had so far this year against the West, I am far more confident in the Revs’ ability to grab points out West/on the road than I have been in a long time.
Maybe because New England’s 13 road points so far this year are more points than they had in 2016, 2017, or 2018..., you know, assuming my math is right...but I digress.
Speaking of interesting playoff races, the West is a logjam for second behind LAFC. We talk to Mark Kastner of Sounder at Heart on just where Seattle stands in the mess that is a three way tie on points for second place among other things. As always, check out my answers to Mark’s questions over on their site.
TBM: Seattle is coming off their second home loss of the year to SKC last week, what went wrong and how do the Sounders fix those issues?
MK: In the first half just about everything went wrong. Apart from the second half performance away to NYCFC, that half against SKC was the worst I’ve seen the Sounders play all year. Literally nothing worked. So in simple, if the Sounders do better at everything, that’s how you fix those issues. But in all seriousness the second half shift they put in was admirable considering the circumstances. They were missing 5 starters in that game and it really shows. Hopefully two or three of those guys are back this week. that *should* help the Sounders.
If I had to pick one area for the Sounders to pin point their focus this week it would be transitional defense. They’ve gotten roasted on the counter by SKC and Portland. That needs to be addressed.
TBM: Raul Ruidiaz is your leading scorer, but he’s missed some time with a concussion. What’s his status for this week and how have the Sounders fared without him leading the attack?
MK: He cleared concussion protocol and has been in full training this week. I think that means he’ll be back in the starting lineup.
The attack has definitely suffered without him in there, obviously, but it definitely wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. Jordan Morris scored 3 goals in the two games that Ruidiaz missed, his first goals since April. As I mentioned above, the attack hasn’t been the issue for Seattle. It’s mostly been sloppy defending and cheap giveaways in possession.
TBM: LAFC is probably going to win the West, but the current three-way tie on points for second between Seattle, San Jose, and Minnesota is fascinating. Give us your take on the current West standings and where you think the Sounders wind up at the end
MK: My answer and mood about this question changes from week to week it seems. Mostly that has to do with how the Sounders do week to week. Without a doubt the Sounders have the second most talented roster in the West. That includes how they stack up against the Galaxy and the Timbers, two teams you didn’t mention. But injuries and silly mistakes have cost the Sounders a lot of points this season.
If the Sounders can have a decent run in to the playoffs and get healthy, I think they have a real good shot of making the MLS Cup Final and even winning it. But that’s a huge if at this stage.
Frei; Smith, Arreaga, Kim, Abdul-Salaam; Roldan, Delem; Shipp, Lodeiro, Morris; Ruidiaz
Think Victor Rodriguez, Gustav Svensson, and Kelvin Leerdam just miss out on the start, but all three could feature on the bench. 2-1 Seattle.