At the halfway mark of the current 2018 season, the Revs were flying high. Following a gritty 3-2 home victory over a Wayne Rooney-less DC United, New England was firmly entrenched in playoff position at 5th place with a 7-4-6 record and 27 points. Looming ahead was a road-heavy second half schedule, but confidence in the locker room was brimming.
Enter the annual summer swoon. Now with two-thirds of the season in the books, a different story is being told. Six matches into the latter half of the campaign, the Revolution have little to show for their efforts. Identical 0-2-1 records at Gillette and on the road have yielded just two points, bumping New England up to 29 points on the year while dropping them into 7th place in the Eastern Conference standings. The top six clubs are granted entrance to the postseason, which currently leaves the Revs on the outside looking in.
The Bent Musket produced a midseason report that estimated the final conference playoff spot would go to a team with at least 50 points. Said report also loosely projected the Revs would finish with 49 points based on their first half point per game yield, thus missing the playoffs. As it stands now, New England is on track for a 43-point season, well short of the approximate 50-point threshold.
Can we expect the Revs to turn things around? What effect will Antonio Delamea’s post-match accountability rant have on the team’s performance? Will recent acquisitions Cristhian Machado and Michael Mancienne (who comes with a $1.28 million price tag) be difference-makers? Machado hasn’t looked that great in training and has made just one appearance so far. Will any free agents arrive that could fill glaring weaknesses and possibly provide a spark? Recall in 2014 the Revs were in the midst of a horrific 1-9-1 summer swoon when Jermaine Jones swooped in from the World Cup and carried New England to an MLS Cup Final. All-time England leading goalscorer Wayne Rooney appears primed for that role in DC. Might Mancienne -- now the highest paid MLS defender -- live up to the largest-ever Revolution defender contract and help the club move mountains in the final third of the season?
Does the remaining 11-match schedule give us any hope? Here is what New England is up against starting on Sunday in the nation’s capital where they’ve only ever won nine times for a dismal 9-23-4 record in the regular season. They enter Wayne’s World needing 21 points in their last eleven matches to reach the goal of 50 points. Most pundits believe they have absolutely no chance of getting a result against an ascending Red and Black squad. However, it is their first-ever visit to the brand-new Audi Field, so maybe they can start to rewrite history in DC?
Looking down the schedule, the Revs have a trip to the left coast to reunite with Lee Nyugen and his new club, expansion side LAFC, whom many consider a Cup contender. They also travel to the Rockies to battle an improved and playoff-bound Real Salt Lake. Their final four road fixtures include:
- Newly-crowned, three-time Canadian champion Toronto FC
- Cup contender and top-three Eastern conference squad NYCFC
- Powerhouse Atlanta United FC (see previous description)
- Playoff contender Philadelphia Union, currently 2-0 this season vs New England
The Revs do have four home matches remaining, as well. They entertain:
- struggling Orlando City SC, who just signed another Peru international
- bitter rival Chicago Fire, which is having its own troubles
- Cup contender Portland Timbers FC, who recently went on a 15-match unbeaten run
- an improved playoff contender in Montreal Impact, which also added key players
Earning 21 points from this slate of matches is no small task. At worst, the Revs would need to capture a 5-0-6 record just to grab those 21 points. That means just winning their four home matches (12 points) and drawing all seven road games (7 points) wouldn’t be enough (19 points). They’re going to require a road win somewhere. If they can manage two road wins somehow while still winning all four home matches, then a 6-2-3 record would be sufficient to achieve the necessary 21 points. Of course, it doesn’t have to be home wins, but those are obviously more likely than road results most seasons, this one included, as the Revs have just one total win away from Gillette.
What can Revolution supporters expect in this penultimate stretch of the 2018 season? No matter how you slice it, the road won’t be easy. In fact, for first-year coach Brad Friedel, it may be a bridge-too-far. November (and ideally December) soccer in New England may have to wait yet another year.