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After taking a huge leap towards keeping their playoff hopes alive last week at home against NYCFC, the Revolution made an abrupt about face on the road in Harrison, NJ.  New England took the lead in the second half off a well worked passing sequence finishing with Tommy McNamara scoring his 4th goal of the season.  The Red Bulls wouldn’t stay behind for long, equalizing in the 58th and grabbing the game winner on a PK in the 78th.

While a road loss isn’t usually viewed as a season ending result, the Revs now find themselves in a truly precarious position.  With FC Cincinnati drubbing the San Jose Earthquakes 6-0, the playoffs are seeming further and further out of reach.  Matt Doyle of MLSsoccer.com suspects that the Revolution will need to collect 10 points from their remaining 4 matches to give themselves a chance to see the postseason.  That essentially means they’re allowed just one draw the rest of the way.  Furthermore, any loss would likely mean an early-fall exit for the 2021 Supporters Shield winners.

The loss on Saturday was tough to swallow but, in a sense, perfectly encapsulates the Revs 2022 season.  Here are 3 reasons why.

Limited DP availability

While Gustavo Bou did make his fourth straight appearance for the Revolution, he’s still working his way back up to fitness.  The good news is that he was able to start and play 90 minutes.  Meanwhile, Giacomo Vrioni made the bench for the first time in 7 games.  New England is still dealing with a slew of injuries, but they’re finally starting to get some pieces back.  One might suspect that, given that news, this could finally be the week that all 3 Revolution designated players made the field at the same time.

Alas, it was not to be.  Carles Gil reamained in Boston, as his first child was born on Saturday! As a parent myself, I will not begrudge him taking the opportunity to be there for his wife and new baby.  There will be plenty of opportunities to lose to the Red Bulls for years to come.  It is, however, somewhat emblematic of the Revs struggles to get all their best players on the field at once this season.

Whether by birth of a child, “leg” injury, or other circumstance the Revolution have only played 3 games this season with a trio of DPs in 2022.  While last year was not without it’s share of injuries, the team remained fairly fortunate en route to a record setting campaign.  Outside of Carles Gil’s injury, a brief injury absence for Bou and a handful of international call-ups, the team managed to put out a full strength roster for much of the year.

That has, decidedly, not been the case in 2022.

Section 2: Conceding Penalties

There was a moment in the second half, where the vibes were good for New England.  The Revs looked likely to leave with at least a point after Tommy McNamara’s 53rd minute goal.  New England had been fairly stout defensively up to that point.  New England effectively limited the Red Bulls chances in the first half.

The good vibes didn’t last long, however.  McNamara’s goal seemed to have a galvanizing effect for the Red Bulls.  New England, on the other hand, seemed lulled into a false sense of security.  A good bit of hold up play from New York’s Manoel allowed Casseres to run straight in on goal and, just like that, the Revs lead had evaporated.

From there it seemed all too inevitable that New York would find the second goal they needed to take all 3 points.  In the XX minute, that’s exactly what happened.  For Revs fans, it will sting all the more because it comes by way of another penalty kick.  New England has now conceded 10 on the season.  That’s tied with Colorado for the worst mark in the league.

Djordje Petrovic has been an absolute revelation in net for New England, but even he can’t stop every penalty sent his way.  In his 17 matches in New England (about 1/2 of a full season) he has faced 7 penalties.  His PK save percentage of 43% with NE is amazing (he’s saved 3 of them) but it’s still concerning that the Revolution defense keeps putting him in that position.

Dropping Points from leading positions

If you had to pick a single stat to sum up the Revs 22 season, you might think to choose their propensity for sending in endless crosses.  Their 446 attempted crosses sits second in MLS.  It might be the massive number of late goals they concede.  You might point to the number of minutes the team has missed due to player injuries, as I mentioned above.

Or… you might point to this depressing stat.

This season has been disappointing for many Revolution fans, but it’s not just due to their place in the standings.  The real disappointment comes from imagining what could have been.  The Revs were coming off of a nearly perfect regular season In 2021.  Heck, with LAFC’s loss this weekend, New England’s 73 points in 2021 will hold up as the record for at least another season.

With that level of success, some drop off is to be expected.  Especially considering all the major pieces that New England sold to Europe.  What’s made this fall from grace so frustrating to watch is just how many times New England should have been able to hold on for a win or draw.  Time and again, the Revs found ways to shoot themselves in the foot. Sometimes it’s a late penalty.  Sometimes it was a lack of focus.  One time it was Andrew Farrell clearing a ball directly off Matt Polster and back into their own net.  It’s disappointing to see a team that was so good at stealing points last season losing so many this season.

If they do sneak into the playoffs this year, they will need to find ways to hang onto their leads.

 

 Photo credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images
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