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Soccer notes

Not a total loss for Revolution

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / September 14, 2011

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After nearly eight months of work, more than 50,000 air miles traveling to away games, plus some soul-searching, the Revolution finally are on the road to being a team with an identity.

Chances are, they have waited too long to make a playoff run. But now they have enough personalities on the team and a style of play that can be effective.

The Revolution showed promise in their last two matches, taking a 4-1 halftime lead against Philadelphia and defeating FC Dallas, 2-0. Both performances were flawed - the second half at Philadelphia especially so. But the fact that the Revolution have remained confident through difficult times is a positive sign going into their visit to Portland Friday.

As for advancing to the postseason, though, odds are low. In Steve Nicol’s first seasons as coach, the Revolution peaked late and made strong playoff runs. It almost seemed like a calculated strategy. But the dramatic runs were often a combination of Nicol pacing the team to avoid burnout and management’s inability to reinforce it.

Now, the Revolution could be poised for a similar fast finish to the regular season. There might be too many teams for them to climb over, but at least a base for next year is being established.

And the Revolution have maintained their competitive spirit.

“I don’t think we’ve let up, effort-wise,’’ said midfielder Benny Feilhaber after Saturday’s win over Dallas. “And it’s good to see the guys, regardless how tough the season has been, to really put everything into it.’’

The Revolution are not the only long shots for the playoffs. Chicago, San Jose, Toronto, and Vancouver also should be planning for next season, even if they get their act together now.

In 2002, the Revolution had earned 22 points with six matches remaining. They rallied with a 5-0-1 finish, advanced to the MLS Cup final, and came within a Winston Griffiths shot off the crossbar of winning the title.

Something like that could encourage MLS’s lowest teams. But even if the Revolution replicate that ’02 run, their chances of playing in the postseason are less than 50 percent, according to sportsclubstats.com. A 6-0-0 conclusion means an 89.6 percent chance of advancing.

Only the Los Angeles Galaxy have clinched a playoff berth, and four other Western Conference teams (Seattle, FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, Colorado) are likely qualifiers. Any team surpassing 40 points at this stage of the season is almost assured of a place in the postseason.

Western Conference teams have displayed superiority this season. But the East’s D.C. United, Houston, and New York are well-placed wild card candidates.

Wait till next year AS Roma lost to Cagliari, 2-1, in the club’s first Serie A match under the control of Red Sox minority owner Thomas DiBenedetto’s Neep Roma Holding.

“Neep’’ is an acronym for “North End Everett Peabody,’’ residences and former residences of the ownership group.

Roma has already been eliminated from Europa League play and has been slow to adjust to the changes imposed by Spanish coach Luis Enrique.

Midfielder Daniele De Rossi said he is supporting the coach.

“Luis Enrique is a loyal and an innovative coach,’’ De Rossi told Sky Sports 24 television. “He is young and he emphasizes ball possession and offensive play.

“With us, he has always presented himself the right way. He tells you things to your face and I appreciate him for this.’’

But De Rossi said Roma will “not be able to win this year. We have to support this project and plan in view of the coming years.’’

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

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