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In this reality show, Revolution eyeing wins, not playoffs

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / September 6, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - In Steve Nicol’s first seasons as Revolution coach, the team made a habit of finishing the regular season strong. But even if the Revolution can match the most spectacular of those past finishes, they might not qualify for the playoffs this season.

The Revolution have a 4-11-11 record (23 points), 17th in the overall Major League Soccer standings. They are 9 points out of the final playoff spot, and likely would have to win out starting with a game against Philadelphia tomorrow to remain in postseason contention.

Midfielder Benny Feilhaber, for one, has a realistic perspective on the situation.

“I mean, I know a lot of people are still saying playoff run here and playoff run there,’’ Feilhaber said after practice yesterday. “I’ll be completely honest with you - I don’t think that’s what should be on our minds right now. We’re not playing good enough soccer to be in the playoffs.

“Is it possible that we could make the playoffs? Yes, it’s possible. But you don’t even need to have that in your head right now. If we can put one good 90-minute performance together and pick up a win, that should be our first thought right now. Then we can start thinking about putting in two good performances in a row. And if we can potentially put in those performances, two, three, four games where we pick up a good amount of points, then we can start maybe thinking about playoffs again.

“But I don’t see the point about thinking about playoffs right now when I don’t remember the last time we won a game.’’

The Revolution are winless since July 20 and have a 1-8-7 record since May 14.

“It is frustrating, but that is the reality of it right now,’’ Feilhaber said. “And I think it’s something that we should be thinking of - improving every single game, whether it’s something individually, or some team aspect, and really building on that from game to game so that we can, at the very least, have something to build on at the beginning of next season and have a base as to what we want to do and how to do those things in a 90-minute game. I don’t know if other guys agree with it.’’

That is not to say the Revolution are throwing in the towel with two months remaining in the regular season.

“Listen, you never give up on a season, never give up on a game, and you always look to that next match to make things better,’’ defender Ryan Cochrane said. “No, you play the next game, you don’t play next season.

“We’re not looking at playoffs right now, we’re looking at winning a game, and then winning another game. If you ask anybody, I don’t think we’re concerned about playoffs at this point. We’re concerned about getting a win. We’re too many points away from looking at playoffs at this point.’’

The Revolution began their late-season rallies in 2002, when they closed with a 5-0-1 record, then advanced to the first of four MLS Cup finals. That was also the first of eight successive postseason appearances, a streak that ended last year.

“I don’t think we’ve lacked any motivation up to this point,’’ Nicol said. “I think everybody’s given everything, but that’s a starting point. Obviously, we want to do better as far as results and as far as playing, we want to be playing better. I don’t think, recently, we’ve been too bad. We’ve made plenty of chances, we’ve scored some goals, the problem is we haven’t been able to keep them out. So it’s just an ongoing thing. But the bottom line is, we haven’t turned up to any game anything than not motivated.’’

None of the current Revolution players were with the team in 2002. And the team continues to be in transition, striker Milton Caraglio and midfielder Monsef Zerka joining the squad in recent weeks.

“We’re always adding new players so it’s a work in progress for us,’’ goalkeeper Matt Reis said.

Reis has not played since Aug. 17, when he received a red card and a one-game suspension following the Revolution’s 1-1 tie with Houston.

“If you’re not motivated by the situation we’re in, I don’t know if you’re going to be around next year,’’ Reis said. “So it’s important for everybody to dig deep and to make sure we have a chance to at least sneak in.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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