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The New England Revolution played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday night against the Columbus Crew.  The statistics paint a rather rosy picture for the Revs attack, which saw 61% possession.  New England out-shot their opponents 33-6, had a 14-2 advantage in corner kicks and a nearly 2 goal lead in expected goals.  If not for some poor finishing and some late game heroics from Eloy Room, this could have been a 3-0 win for the Revolution.

It’s a draw that feels like a loss against a tough, but vulnerable, opponent.  It was the kid of result that could help the Crew pick up some steam headed into the playoffs.

With the Revs looking likely to make the post-season, I’d spent some time last week wondering where the team could finish, and who they might play against.  The next 8 weeks will likely be a frantic dash to the finish, with pride, playoff seeding, and even history on the line.  With that in mind, I did my best Regis Philbin impression and polled the audience.

Where do Revs fans see the team finishing the year?

New England has a 17-4-5 record after Saturday’s draw with Columbus.  That puts them on 56 points through 26 games, with 8 games to go.  I asked Revs fans how they thought the team would finish the season.  Just over half of the respondents thought they were going to break the record of 72 points set by LAFC in 2019.  Much of the remaining vote thought the Revs would fall short of that 72 pt mark, but would still lift the supporters shield at the end of the season.  Only about 10 percent thought the Revs wouldn’t win the supporter’s shield.

In order to break the record, New England will need to earn 17 points from their remaining 8 matches.  That’s 2.125 points per game.  In reality, however, there are really only a few ways the Revs can accomplish that feat and make history.  They can either outright win at least 6 of the 8, or they can draw 2 and win at least 5.  They are afforded a maximum of 2 losses for the rest of the season, assuming they can win the other 6.

That may sound difficult to pull off, but that doesn’t seem to be deterring Revs fans.  That optimism may be warranted.  New England has only lost 4 matches all season, and their 17 wins have propelled them to a 2.15 ppg average, just north of the 2.125 they’ll need from here on out.

Assuming New England makes the playoffs, which opponent is the scariest?

New England has played every eastern conference team at least once except, surprisingly, Orlando City SC.  They have beaten each of those teams at least once this season, with the exception of Nashville SC and, also surprisingly, the Chicago Fire.  New England will have the opportunity to rectify two of those situations this week as they play Chicago on Wednesday and Orlando on Saturday.

The Revolution’s dominance over the eastern conference in the standings doesn’t mean they’ve been dominant game to game.  Several teams have given New England a run for their money, or been genuinely hard to play against.

Current Eastern Conference playoff standings by PPG

Given the limitations of twitter polls, and an apparent lack of respect for Montreal and Philadelphia, I narrowed the eastern conference playoff field to 4 teams; Orlando, Atlanta, NYC, and Nashville.

A solid majority of respondents, ~58%, said Nashville is the team they’d least like to see in a single elimination playoff game.  It’s hard to argue with the majority here; Nashville is one of the few teams to remain undefeated against New England this season.  Their 2-0 victory was the first loss of the season for New England, back in May, and they held New England to a scoreless 0-0 draw in August.  In fact, Nashville is responsible for 2 of the 3 times this season New England has failed to score a goal.

The only other team to hold the Revs scoreless this season came in 2nd in the poll.  NYCFC, who New England beat a little over a week ago, recieved about 21% of the vote.  I wrote at length about how good NYCFC have been, but suffice it to say, very few teams are as good as NY in the attack.

Polling slightly lower is a surging Atlanta United side that has really seen their season turn around after firing head coach Gabriel Heinze earlier this year. They earned about 16% of the vote, leaving Philadelphia Union in last with 5%. The Union have struggled lately but have a budding rivalry with the Revs.

Any of these teams could prove a more than capable playoff villain to what has been a dream Revolution season.

Which player has been the most pleasant surprise?

The Revs have been getting solid minutes from a number of depth pieces, so far this season. This includes vets and rookies alike. Players like Tommy McNamara and Emmanuel Boateng are finding success while each playing on their fourth MLS club.  Meanwhile, younger players like Maciel and Jon Bell earned a promotion from Revs II earlier this year and have made the most of it.

All four of these players have contributed in patches throughout the season, but recently Ema Boateng has made a habit of showing up in the box score.  Boateng took 50% of the vote, and deservedly so; he has 2 goals and 3 assists in only 261 minutes this year.  He’s been used sparingly by Arena, but has been highly productive.

Tommy McNamara also has 2 goals and 3 assists this season, and has been an extremely versatile piece for the Revs.  He’s lined up all over the midfield this season and is able to shift into new roles to accommodate changes in tactics.  He pulled in the second most votes, earning 23.5%.

Meanwhile, Maciel has been a stalwart at defensive midfield.  He’s third among Revs players (over 500 mins played) in pass percentage, at 88.9%.  He’s been in and out of the lineup depending on formation, but his proven his worth to the club at every turn.  Both he and Jon Bell play calm and smart soccer well beyond their youth.

Did I leave a good option out of these polls?  Blame Twitter!  Yeah, this is all twitter’s fault!  But also please use twitter to let us know what you think!

 

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