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How the Revolution can make the playoffs

It won’t be easy, but the Revs still have a shot at playoff soccer.

MLS: New England Revolution at Colorado Rapids
With a late-season surge, Cody Cropper and the Revolution could steal the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Cropper hasn’t given up on the 2017 season. Last week, the Revolution goalkeeper calculated playoff scenarios for the navy and red. His math determined that New England would need 21 points from its final nine matches to make a legitimate push for the postseason.

On Saturday, the Revs cruised to a 4-0 win over Orlando City SC. Three points down, 18 to go. That’s a tall order for a team that has yet to win on the road. But it’s possible—as long as the Revolution accomplish these objectives:

1. Beat Atlanta United and the Montreal Impact—twice

If the Revs want to qualify for the playoffs, the team must take 12 points from its remaining two meetings with Montreal and Atlanta, who both hold a four point lead on the 8th-place Revolution. Those points won’t come easy for the Revs, as the club has yet to win consecutive matches against any team in MLS this season.

But if there’s a silver lining, it’s that Montreal and Atlanta have both looked vulnerable of late. Montreal has dropped two consecutive matches at home and has tough matchups with New York City FC and Toronto FC ahead. Atlanta has gone four straight without a win and closes the season with two challenging matches of its own, against Toronto and the New York Red Bulls.

2. Outpace the Philadelphia Union and Orlando City SC down the stretch

The Revolution have a game in hand on both east coast clubs, who sit directly beneath the Revs on the table (one point separates all three teams). That advantage could prove key. The Union have played wildly inconsistent soccer this summer, sandwiching dominant wins between big losses. The team could find its form at any time. But with matches against the Red Bulls, Fire (twice) and Sounders still remaining, it won’t be easy to keep pace with the Eastern Conference playoff contenders.

While the Union aim for consistency, Orlando City will try to catch itself from a free fall. The team has gone winless since June and must earn results against the Revolution, Portland Timbers, Columbus Crew SC and FC Dallas if it wants to claw its way back into the playoff picture.

3. Keep scoring goals (and preventing them)

When the Revolution attack clicks, good things happen—like a four-goal rout of Orlando City SC. Lopsided scores like that one could make the difference if the Revs tie Montreal or Atlanta in the standings.

If that happens, total wins would serve as the first tiebreaker (the Revolution have won nine matches, while Atlanta and Montreal have each won 10). Goal differential, which kept the Revs out of the playoffs a year ago, would serve as the second tiebreaker. Of the three teams, Atlanta leads the way with a plus 12 differential. That’s ten goals better than the Revolution and 12 goals better than the Impact.

It would take a lot for the Revs to leapfrog Atlanta. But with two matches still to play against the Impact, the Revolution could boost its playoff chances with a pair of multi-goal wins.

4. Take care of business at home

An inability to win on the road has plagued the Revolution all season long. But as November draws nearer, winning at home will prove just as important as winning on the road.

Of its remaining eight matches, the Revolution play four at Gillette Stadium, where the team has gone 9-2-2 this season. Those matches pit the Revs against Atlanta, Montreal, Toronto and NYCFC. The most challenging match will come against a Toronto team that leads the Supporter’s Shield race by six points. Next in line? That’s NYCFC, who beat the Revs at Yankee Stadium three weeks ago.

To sneak into the playoffs, the Revs almost certainly need to sweep its remaining home outings—another tall task for Jay Heaps’ side.

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