The message after the New England Revolution’s 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake was clear: We have to be better. It’s a cliche saying in sports, but one that accurately describes the Revs’ current situation.
The drama of the season has been well-documented. Expectations were low as Brad Friedel entered his second year in charge of the Revolution. The horrid start to 2019 saw ownership fire both their head coach and general manager, replacing both with Bruce Arena.
The Revs looked rejuvenated under Arena, going 6-0-2 upon his arrival. The prospect of making the playoffs—something that was once unthinkable—became a realistic possibility. And once you’re in, anything can happen.
This is why the Revs’ recent run of form is so disappointed. The club hasn’t won since Aug. 24, posting three ties and one loss. Their last two outings—both draws—are particularly concerning.
Last weekend the Revs were up 3-1 at halftime before allowing Orlando City SC back into the game. The goals they allowed would be difficult to reproduce on a different night. Still, the Revs shouldn’t be dropping points when they’re in such a favorable position.
This week the Revs recorded a scoreless draw against RSL. It was a bad result considering they were playing at home against a weakened side.
Through it all, the Revs have been able to hold on to the seventh place spot in the Eastern Conference. This is partly because they’re usually savaging a point and partly because the teams below them have been particularly dreadful.
Given the start to the season, making the playoffs could be considered an accomplishment. That said, the benchmark should be higher at this point. Given how the team was playing a few months ago, it’s not absurd to think that they could get a few positive results in the post-season, especially since each round will be decided by one game.
For that to happen, the team needs to rediscover their form. They need to be stingy on defense. They have to finish their opportunities. They need to play for 90 minutes.
In sum, they need to do all the cliches that are said after a disappointing result.
Some Revs fans have their sights set on 2020 because Arena will have the opportunity to pick a roster that’s more in line with his vision. That’s perfectly understandable, but these people shouldn’t disregard 2019. Making the playoffs isn’t a sure thing in MLS (though it’s close to it). As such, you have to be ready to compete when you make it.
Limping into the playoffs only to be knocked out in the first round would be a disappointment. Although they have an imperfect roster, there’s enough talent there to win games, especially with Arena roaming the sidelines.
The Revolution’s final three games are difficult, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for them to collect some points. That would go a long way in not only securing a playoff spot—which they certainly haven’t done yet—but also building confidence ahead of a post-season.