Just over two weeks ago the New England Revolution looked primed to make a run at the playoffs. The club was in the midst of a five game unbeaten streak, sitting in sixth place in the East and closing in on the fifth and final playoff spot while preparing to face the worst team in the league, Toronto FC, at home.
Fast forward 15 days and the Revs are sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and on a four game winless streak – their longest of the season. In that current streak, the team suffered losses to Toronto, the Montreal Impact, and, on Sunday, the Philadelphia Union – all clubs sitting below them in the standings entering the matches.
Despite the shock home loss to Toronto on July 14, the Revs have maintained a respectable 5-2-3 home record. It’s the atrocious road record of 1-8-2 that has really cost the Revs and made lost points in winnable home games – such as the Toronto match – impossible to recover from.
“[Why we struggle] on the road, I don’t know,” said French striker Saer Sene. “We are a young team and this makes me sad because sometimes we play a very good game, we do one mistake, and then we give up a goal. This is what we have to do better because… today I think we allowed them to make maybe 5, 7 or 10 mistakes, but we score only one goal and we make one or two mistakes and they score two goals. I think that’s what we have to do better on the road.”
That problem of failing to take advantage of their opponent’s mistakes, while getting punished for their own has been especially apparent on the Revs recent three game road trip that saw the club fall 2-1 to Montreal, draw 0-0 with Kansas City and lose 2-1 to Philadelphia to claim just one point in three games.
The Kansas City result was a positive for the club against a favored opponent, but the two losses came despite the Revs creating more opportunities than their struggling opposition.
“I think [we should’ve had more points],” said Sene. “The last game in Kansas we make a very good game. We played very disciplined defensively and that was a 50-50 game. The one point was good last week. Against Montreal, the same [situation as against Philadelphia] – one mistake, we have one mistake again and it is 2-1, we lost the game.
“I think we could keep one point in Montreal too and tonight [against Philadelphia] I think we have to take three points because the referee called a penalty… I think this is a mistake and that killed the game.”
The Philadelphia loss on Sunday will perhaps sting the most as it was a game the Revs seemingly were in control of at halftime.
“[Against Philadelphia] we should’ve gotten three [points],” said midfielder Benny Feilhaber. “We really should’ve. We did what we needed to do in the first half and then we didn’t complement it with the second half. That’s what happens in soccer, if we don’t score the goals you’re going to get scored on, so three points lost today, that’s for sure.”
On the scoring end, the Revs could receive some help when Honduran International Jerry Bengtson, who is currently tied for the lead in goals in the 2012 London Olympics with three, returns to the Revs. Bengtson scored the lone goal in Honduras’ shock 1-0 win that eliminated Spain earlier on Sunday before the Revs loss to Philadelphia.
“He’s scoring… we will be happy when he comes,” said Sene.
Still, the Revs can’t afford to wait for Bengtson’s return. With a big home match against Kansas City on tap next weekend, three points are a must.
“We know at home we have to take points, we have to win,” said Sene. “We showed it against New York and against a lot of very good teams. Next week we have to win. This is not a one point thing, we have to take the three points.”