New England Soccer Today

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Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Few teams are as good at the classic late-season push than the Revolution, who clawed and wrestled their way into the playoffs this year in a fashion similar to postseason runs of years past. But the Columbus Crew might be the Revolution’s closest doppelganger this time around.

The Crew, who will host the Revolution in game one of a two-game, aggregate goal conference semifinal, have been on a late-season push of their own. After notching just one victory between April 5 and July 19, the Crew raced back into the playoff scene with a solid run of form that began in mid-August. Because of that effort, the Crew won eight of their final 11 games.

They clinched a playoff spot in unexpected fashion last weekend, then grabbed sole possession of third place—and a post-season date with the Revolution—through a combination of their 2-1 win on Saturday over Philadelphia and Kansas City’s home loss to New York.

This isn’t a match-up exemplified by the Joker from “The Dark Knight’s” philosophy about an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Rather, it’s about two teams riding a building-sized wave of momentum ready to duke it out early in playoff season.

In fact, this match-up may be the toughest the Revolution face throughout the entire playoffs, assuming they go all the way. Never mind that Columbus has been almost as good as New England down the stretch. The likes of Federico Higuain, Ethan Finlay, and Tony Tchani have victimized the Revolution throughout the season. Crew Stadium isn’t CenturyLink Field or Providence Park, but the hosts haven’t been especially hospitable since mid-August, as evidenced by a six-game home winning streak.

The Revolution are certainly capable of figuring out their black and gold opponents—they beat them 2-1 on Oct. 4 after losing to them twice in a row earlier on—but the fact that the Revolution have been so good of late doesn’t make this match-up a cake walk. The playoffs are a clean slate.

Remember the 2005 Earthquakes and DC United? Two of the best teams in their respective conferences. Completely out-classed and ripped to shreds in round one of the playoffs. It was another reminder that the postseason is a much different animal than its March-October counterpart.

It’s worth trying to understand how the Crew could have pulled off this turnaround. Higuain has always been a proven performer, but he was certainly helped by a cast that included emerging talents like Tchani, Finlay, and goalkeeper Steve Clark. Their performances, along with a backline that grew stronger down the stretch, are among the biggest reasons why the Crew have shaken off their early-season woes.

Some will say that the Revolution’s turnaround was spurred by the late-August addition of Jermaine Jones. Granted, his presence certainly didn’t hurt the club’s fortunes. But Jay Heaps recently remarked that the Revolution, with Lee Ngyuen leading the charge and A.J. Soares stabilizing the rear, were already starting to put their summertime struggles behind them before the infamous blind draw.

Regardless of  how each club did it, the fact is that both the Revolution and Crew both became late-season juggernauts.  And with what promises to be a hard-fought 180 minutes ahead of them, it’ll be interesting to find out which one blinks first.

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