The New England Revolution are stumbling at the worst possible time, but they can still clinch a top-four playoff seed when they entertain the Philadelphia Union in the regular-season finale Saturday in Foxborough, Mass.
The Revolution (14-9-10, 52 points) enter Decision Day fifth in the Eastern Conference, and a top-four spot would grant them home-field advantage for Round 1.
But they are 1-4-1 since coach Bruce Arena resigned the night of Sept. 9 and have lost three straight matches, most recently a 3-2 defeat at Nashville SC on Oct. 14. Confidence level will be a key component if the team wants to end the skid.
“You want to be able to get a win, and you want to believe that you have that ability to see games out,” interim coach Clint Peay told WBZ-FM 98.5 in Boston. “We have to stop bleeding goals. We have to give ourselves a chance to win the game.”
The Revs must go up against the No. 3 team in the Eastern Conference. The Union (15-8-10, 55 points) cannot move any higher, but they can certainly drop back with both the Columbus Crew (54 points) and Revs on their tails.
There are three scenarios for New England to displace either Philadelphia or Columbus in the top four, but they all start with a Revolution victory over the Union on Saturday.
Union coach Jim Curtin is prepared to see an opponent desperate for all three points.
“They’ve lost a legendary coach midseason, which is always difficult, and they’ve had a little bit of a dip in their last six games. … So they’ll be looking to get that momentum back with a good performance for their fans on the final day of the year,” Curtin said.
While the Revs have been losing, the Union are unbeaten in their past eight outings (2-0-6). They were off last week after a scoreless draw with Nashville on Oct. 7.
Daniel Gazdag leads Philadelphia with 14 goals, Julian Carranza has 13 and Mikael Uhre has nine. If Uhre scores Saturday, the Union will be just the second team in MLS history (San Jose, 1996-97) to have three double-digit goal-scorers in two straight seasons.
The Revs’ best attacker of late is Tomas Chancalay, on loan from Argentina’s Racing Club. He tallied both goals last week against Nashville and is New England’s leading goal-scorer since his August debut (six in 10 matches).