The New England Revolution’s (6-12-5, 23 points) playoff hopes are all but dead, even if the team manages to win Saturday night against the Chicago Fire (11-7-5, 38 points) at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL. The Revolution have scored just twice in their last six games and haven’t won since July 7. Tomorrow night’s game could be an opportunity to try something new.
Revolution coach Jay Heaps says he plans to shake things up a bit.
“There will be some changes,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “I think we’ve made a few changes when we’ve needed to in the last couple of games, but there will be some changes for Saturday.”
With the end of the season approaching, the changes Heaps makes tomorrow could just be experimental. With the Revolution’s postseason hopes realistically gone and 11 games remaining, experimenting may not be a bad idea.
Diego Fagundez and Tyler Polak are among the youngest members of the team and without much playing time thus far this season, it may be the right time to get the pair more MLS experience to help them acheive their potential.
Saer Sene, who leads the Revolution in scoring with nine goals, hit the crossbar last weekend against Montreal but has only scored once in his last seven games, while hardly looking like a clinical finisher in front of net. Though Fagundez has scored just once, a late-winner against Seattle on June 30, he could be a better option — or at least provide a different look to an offense in need of one — at forward given Sene’s drought.
Based on recent line-ups and playing time, either Sene or Fagundez are the likely choices pair with Jerry Bengston at forward. Unlike his club team, Bengston has been in scoring form, notching three goals with Honduras at the Olympics and a goal against Boca Juniors in a friendly on Wednesday.
“Any time a striker scores, it’s good for his confidence,” Heaps said of his Designated Player to MLSSoccer.com. “Obviously, we want him to be scoring for us.”
Fagundez and Bengston have yet to combine this season, though the pair could develop a chemistry since both are Spanish-speaking and look like they could do some damage for the Revs in the future.
Heaps could also experiment by having Polak — or if he’s still not ready, Darrius Barnes — start at left back, allowing Chris Tierney to move into left midfield where could help improve the team’s inconsistent service into the penalty area. Polak has made just one appearance this season — coming on as a substitute in the first game of the season — and his ability to play at this level is still unproven. But given that at this point the Revolution have almost nothing to lose, it could be worthwhile to see what the 20-year-old Polak can add to the table.
No matter what group of players Heaps goes with, winning against Chicago will come down to limiting lapses that allow goals and ending the current scoring drought. The Revolution defeated Chicago 2-0 on June 2, a win that came from strong midfield play and solid defending.
That 2-0 victory was the beginning of a five-game winning streak for the Revolution. But that streak has been followed by this seven-game winless run and a serious dip in form. Experiments or not, the idea is to win. And if the Revolution are going to get out of their slump they’ll have to recover their scoring form and establish a dominant midfield.