New England Soccer Today

Tough Task Ahead

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

The one team of all teams that the New England Revolution had to face in the Conference semi-finals just had to be the stubborn and similarly-streaking Columbus Crew.

For Revolution fans, there is just one team in the conference that scares them: the Crew. The playoff series features two strong midfields that know how to take over a match. Will the Revolution have it in them to keep pace with the red hot Crew?

Coming into the 2014 MLS season, both the Revolution and the Crew were both expected to contend, but top-3 finishes weren’t predicted for either of them. And when both stumbled along earlier in the season, the prospect of the postseason seemed like pure fantasy.

Now, both clubs look to make their dominance felt in the playoffs. While New England relies heavily on Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones to power their offense, Columbus looks to young Will Trapp, Federico Higuain and Ethan Finlay. Two different clubs with very different styles of finding the back of the net.

New England wins matches by dominating the midfield, especially with Nguyen serving as its attacking catalyst. The Revolution’s best kept secret is out, and every team from here on out knows that Nguyen is the life blood to the Revolution’s success. Can New England only rely on Nguyen alone to make their MLS Cup dreams a reality? Absolutely not.

Columbus is a team that is hard to score against, especially at home. The Crew allow an average of 0.9 goals at home and see a substantial shift when on the road, where they leak through an average of 1.6 goals. Those figures do not play well into New England’s favor going into the first leg at Columbus.

Another worrying thought: New England concedes an average of 1.9 goals against on the road, while Columbus averages 1.6 goals scored when playing at home. When the two clubs met back on September 20, New England went into Columbus, and were blanked by squad that dominated them from start to finish. 

One bright spot from that 1-0 loss at Crew Stadium: the play of goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who kept the Revolution close by making a slew of incredible saves. If Shuttleworth steps up and makes big plays on Saturday, the his team has a good chance of getting the best of the Crew in their second trip to the league’s original soccer specific stadium.

The two players that New England must contain throughout the playoff series are, without question, Finlay and Higuain. Both tallied 11 goals and 7 assists in 2014. On top of their incredible success, Finlay emerged as one of the top up and coming attacking talents in MLS.

Considering his success already, Finlay will continue to grow and become a premier striker for years to come. Do not think that Higuain is the main focus of the Crew attack, because Finlay will warrant a lot of attention from the Revs defense.

New England face an uphill battle against a talented and largely underrated Columbus squad. The Eastern Conference playoffs present more excitement this year than the Western Conference, due to their being five solid contenders rather than just a two-team battle for conference supremacy.

The west only have the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders, while the opposite conference is an incredible toss-up. If New England beat the Crew in the conference semi-finals, no team can stand in their way. Columbus present the biggest challenge, and will demand perfection from the Revs in order to defeat them.

Prediction: New England-4, Columbus-3 (on aggregate)


  1. jtsillas

    October 31, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Keys to the game for the Revs: Goncalves v Finley and Don’t Give Away Free Kicks at the top of the box.

  2. Baxter Colburn

    October 31, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Completely agree with you

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