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Can the Revolution Revive their 2014 Magic?

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Can the Revolution Revive their 2014 Magic?

With only 10 games to play, the future looks bleak in New England. The Revolution currently sit seven points beneath the red line and behind the sixth-place Montreal Impact after 24 games played each. Equally worrisome is the six points they trail behind seventh-place Atlanta United FC and their one game in hand.

With only one Western Conference match left on the docket, the Revs do have an opportunity for some six-point swings. And an under-performing Revolution team did turn a summer swoon into a barnstorming run to the MLS Cup final not long ago. Could they do it again?

Comparing 2014 & 2017

Both squads found themselves in a similar place with 10 games remaining. Both were below the red line. Both were playing like a whole less than the sum of their parts. Both had a pretty similar set of results overall- 30 points in 2014 with a negative-five goal differential, compared to the 29 points and negative-one goal differential today.

The 2014 Revolution picked up a staggering 25 of the final 30 points up for grabs (going 8-1-1) and cruised to second place in the Eastern Conference- a comfortable 13 points above the red line. Their form carried them through the playoffs past D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls until LA Galaxy denied the Revolution an MLS Cup Final victory for the third time.

So why not a cup run again in 2017? A few of the pieces are in place already. Summer drought? Check. Recent return to form? Taken three wins from their last five matches. Summer DP signing? A DP and a TAM-level signing! Hey, maybe it’s possible! Even the pesky Galaxy are out of the picture this time around!

Why it’s… not possible

First of all, they have more ground to make up. In 2014 the Revs were outside looking in at a playoff spot, but just barely. Take a look-

They sat only one point under the red line set by the New York Red Bulls after 24 games a piece. The competition around them wasn’t much to shout about either. The Philadelphia Union weren’t terrible in 2014, but none of those squads on the bottom four deserved a playoff spot.

The Eastern Conference is better in 2017. The East has come up 41-29-25 against Western opponents so far this year. At this point in 2014, the East was a less impressive 21-33-25. It will take more to make the playoffs in the East in 2017. I wouldn’t count on much help from the other side of the country either.

The Revs themselves face stiffer competition as well. Their remaining opponents currently average 1.50 points per game, (more than the Revolution themselves at 1.21). Compare this to the average of their last 10 opponents in 2014 at 1.24 points per game. Measured by this season’s averages- that’s the difference between a 10-match run against a FC Dallas (1.5) or Montreal Impact (1.5), instead of an Orlando City (1.24), San Jose Earthquakes (1.27) or Real Salt Lake (1.19).

Jermaine Jones isn’t walking through that door. Claude Dielna looked the part on Sunday and Krisztian Nemeth is an excellent player, but I don’t anticipate these new signings providing the momentum or leadership Jones did in the second half of 2014. His immediate impact has only rarely been replicated by a summer signing in MLS (see: Nico Lodeiro, 2016).

This year’s squad has a steeper hill to climb in a tougher conference against more considerable competition with less impactful reinforcements. A run to the top of the table and deep into the playoffs is likely not in the cards. That said, a playoff appearance isn’t out of the question just yet.

So you’re saying there’s a chance?

Blowing another late lead and failing to win yet again against NYC FC on the weekend doesn’t fill anyone with optimism. Yet, Dielna may solve their problems at center back. Teal Bunbury continues to score, Kei Kamara has finally started to look the part in recent weeks and a proven attacker in Nemeth should be ready to contribute soon. Key players Lee Nguyen, Xavier Kouassi and Diego Fagundez are expected back in the squad after injury scares in the Bronx. The Revolution next face a woeful DC United side on short rest with an opportunity to build confidence.

Even so I would temper expectations. I don’t know exactly how, where or when Nemeth fits in, no one in the league knows what’s going on at left back for New England and losing Kelyn Rowe for 6-8 weeks is massive.

There are reasons for concern and glimmers of optimism aplenty, but one thing is certain- three points on Saturday make the Revs playoffs hopes look a whole lot brighter.

University of Alabama alum who watches far too much soccer. Writing about the New England Revolution for Trifecta Network. Previously covered SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL and high school sports in the state of Maine.

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New England Revolution

10 Man Revolution Fall To Sporting Kansas City 3-1

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Wednesday saw the Revolution lose with the biggest deficit of any team this year. The Revs lost 7-0 against an Atlanta United team who were still fresh off introducing their fans to the brand new Mercedes Benz Stadium. Two red cards in the first half left the Revolution with little hope for the rest of the match. “At that point at halftime, it was never going to go our way.” goalkeeper Cody Cropper said. “Our goal was to get through the game.”

The Revolution went into Saturday’s match having been the only team in the league to not have a road win this season. They would face a Sporting Kansas City side that had not lost at home since 2016. Despite this the Revolution got off to a promising early start. Teal Bunbury scored first of a deflection of Sporting’s Jimmy Medranda.

Then in the 10th minute Krisztian Nemeth, who was making his first start with the Revolution, elbowed Graham Zusi in the face. It almost went unpunished, but the referee went to video review and gave Nemeth a straight red card. Not only was this the third red card in two games for the Revolution but it was also the third red card in a row that was given after assistance from video review.

Sporting were quick to respond the one man advantage. In the 16th minute, Gerso Fernandes scored a goal of a rebound off Brad Knighton. It seemed that the momentum that the Revolution had built early on was gone. But, for the rest of the half the Revs played with relatively equal dominance compared to Kansas City.

Then right before halftime, Diego Rubio scored a crushing go ahead goal. The ball was placed in perfectly by Gerso Fernandes in front of goal. A frustrated Jay Heaps told the Revolution broadcast of his plans to go three at the back to try to boost the offense in the second half.

The Revs second half hopes were wiped away quickly with a 57 minute goal again by Rubio. The rest of the match was uneventful from the Revolution and Kansas City rolled to a 3-1 victory against the 10 man Revs.

The Revolution’s next match will be Saturday at home against league leading Toronto FC. The Revs schedule will not be lenient. But, with 5 games remaining in the season, every match from this point on is a must win.

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Patriots To Change Turf At Gillette Stadium After Loss

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New England Patriots To Change Turf At Gillette Stadium After Loss To Kansas City Chiefs

The New England Patriots are mixing thing up at Gillette Stadium. And no it isn’t a player or personnel move. Instead, it is the replacement of the artificial turf on the field.

According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the surface did not meet team standards and players complained it was too soft of late. The Patriots made the initial switch to the turf in the middle of the 2006 season. The interesting thing about this turf they are ripping up is it had been replaced back in May.

And at the time had passed all MLS and NFL tests.

With the change, the Patriots would have only played three games on this turf. Two came in the preseason and the other this past week against the Chiefs. A game in which they lost in an embarrassing fashion.

On Dale & Holley with Rich Keefe, Bill Belichick was asked of the change and he didn’t have much to say, which isn’t anything new.

“I would say the field is being replaced because it needs to be replaced, and it’s probably something you should talk to the field experts on,” he said.

With this change, one can only wonder how Jay Heaps and the New England Revolution feel about the change in the turf. Once again it is clear that football will always come ahead of the soccer team for Robert Kraft.

The Revs have an impressive 10-2-2 record on their home turf this season in MLS play.

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New England Revolution Get Vital 1-0 Win Against Impact

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New England Revolution Get Vital 1-0 Win Against Impact

Saturday’s match against the Montreal Impact was billed as the most important game of the year, and a must win. The Impact are one of two teams ahead of the Revolution in the standings and tied on points for the last playoff spot. After winning 4 in a row, Montreal went into Saturday’s match losing their previous 2. The Revs went in having not lost a match at home in September since 2013. The last team they lost to, the Montreal Impact.

The match almost had a disastrous start when there was a communication issue between Claude Dielna and Chris Tierney. But Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti failed to capitalize on the opportunity. The Revolution created many chances in the first half out shooting the Impact 5-2 in shots on target. Both goalkeepers were active and performing well by the end of a scoreless first half.

Because of the open first half, both teams went in to the second half with momentum. Montreal almost capitalized on that momentum in the 48th minute. Chris Duvall was able to find Anthony Jackson-Hamel in front of goal. Fortunately for the Revolution he was unable to get his shot on target.

Finally at the end of the 68th minute, Lee Nguyen was able to weave through defenders and get the first goal of the match. Less than two minutes later, both Diego Fagundez and Kei Kamara hit the crossbar and almost put the game away in the 70th minute.

The revolution almost went down to 10 men in the 86th minute when Claude Dielna went down with a non contact injury. Miraculously  though, Dielna was back on the field in the 88th minute and continued to play the rest of the match and help the Revolution and goalkeeper Cody Cropper get their fourth straight clean sheet at home.

This was the most important win of the Revs season so far. Though the Revolution will not have long before their next match which may be an even more important at the end of the season. The Revolution will face off Wednesday with the other major contender for the last playoff spot, Atlanta United. Atlanta is one point above the Revs in the standings and have two games in hand. This will be the first of two games this month against Atlanta. But the Revs are one of the most lethal teams in the month of September. If the Revolution want to make the playoffs, they will need to triumph in their second must win game this week. As Revolution coach Jay Heaps said in the postgame press conference “Now everything’s on to Atlanta.”

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