With four games remaining in the regular season, the New England Revolution have it all to play for. Bruce Arena’s team currently sits seventh in the Eastern Conference, which is the final playoff spot.
New England hasn’t made the postseason since 2015, and is locked in a desperately close race that most likely won’t be decided until the final day of the season.
Here’s a quick overview of the Revolution’s playoff push:
After a season-saving comeback, it’s been a tougher month.
Through the first 12 games of the season, New England was 2-8-2 and near the bottom of the standings. This was when the former leadership pairing of head coach Brad Friedel and general manager Mike Burns were fired, clearing the way for Arena to essentially be given both job.
Coupled with a short but steady run from interim head coach Mike Lapper, Arena proceeded to turn the Revolution completely around. An 11-game unbeaten run in league games from May through July propelled New England back into playoff contention.
But starting with a 2-0 loss to league-leading LAFC on Aug. 3, it’s been a more difficult second act for Arena. The Revolution recorded just one win in the month of August, and have gone 1-2-4 since the final game of the unbeaten run.
A frustrating pattern of surrendering second-half leads has been at the root of the late summer struggle. This was on display against Orlando City on Sept. 14 when New England squandered a 3-1 lead, managing just a 3-3 draw. Arena was visibly upset with the team’s second-half performance:
“The game is 90 minutes. We’re not jumping for joy over the first half. We need to be better over 90 minutes, and that’s been our challenge all year.”
Hear more from Bruce on Saturday night’s 3-3 draw in Orlando
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) September 15, 2019
The remaining games are all against probable playoff teams.
Looking at the remaining games, things won’t get any easier for the Revolution. Getting points from each of the four games will be vital. The is the Revolution’s schedule down the stretch:
Sept. 21: Real Salt Lake (4th place, Western Conference)
Sept. 25: at Portland Timbers (8th place, Western Conference)
Sept. 29: NYC FC (1st place, Eastern Conference)
Oct. 6: at Atlanta United (3rd place, Eastern Conference)
Closing out with back-to-back games against two of the better opponents in the conference will be a true test for a team trying to get back into the playoffs. Nothing will be easy for New England, but that might the exact kind of circumstances the current group of players will thrive in. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time this season that the team has faced long odds.
The team remains ahead of schedule.
While it would be a tough consolation for Revolution fans should the club end up missing out on the 2019 playoffs, the fact remains that few would’ve imagined a playoff chase possible when Arena was named head coach and sporting director in May.
By merely willing themselves into contention, Arena’s squad is well ahead where many thought the team would be in 2019. Yet as the last month has proven, the squad is not completely built yet. More changes are likely to come.
In terms of future building blocks, Arena has already shown the caliber players he wants to acquire.
In July, team made a record signing with the addition of forward Gustavo Bou, brought in from Club Tijuana. In 10 games, Bou has seven goals, several of which have been crucial in securing points for the Revolution’s playoff chase.
Coupled with players like goalkeeper Matt Turner and midfielder Carles Gil, New England has the building blocks for a strong future. What they hope to achieve in the coming weeks is the bonus of short-term success as well.