New England Soccer Today

The Warm-up: #NEvNY

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

The New England Revolution don’t need to play for a win today to advance to the MLS Cup, but don’t expect them to be on their back foot when the New York Red Bulls visit Gillette Stadium for the decisive Eastern Conference final second leg.

The Revs are up 2-1 on aggregate after a late counterattack finished by Jermaine Jones gave them a win last weekend down at Red Bull Arena – their first win there in club history. That means, with away goals factoring in this year, the Revolution can advance with any kind of draw or even a 1-0 loss.

New England has already shown these playoffs that Jones and company won’t sit on a lead. The Revs blew out Columbus in the second leg of their conference semifinal series even though they came back to Gillette with a two-goal lead.

“We don’t want to sit back and invite pressure,” MVP candidate Lee Nguyen said at a team press conference on Wednesday, meaning the Revs won’t pack it in.

Jay Heaps is surely aware what even one goal would mean for the Revolution’s chances, as that would force the Red Bulls to score three times on Saturday.

Allowing two goals at the home stadium dubbed “Fortress Foxboro” isn’t something the Revs have done very often this season, and with MLS scoring leader Bradley Wright-Phillips suspended, the odds only become longer.

On the strength of an early shutout streak to start the year, New England has actually allowed less than a goal per game at Gillette.

The Revs have only given up multiple goals in three of their 18 home games, and they haven’t allowed any multi-goal games since July.

The caveat is that one of those teams to score twice in Foxboro was the Red Bulls, and that was also a game in which Wright-Phillips didn’t score.

Nguyen is hoping New York’s offensive-mindedness will leave them exposed, and with Charlie Davies and Teal Bunbury joining Nguyen and Jones in good form, they may have too many weapons to cover.

“Now that they have to come in and score two goals,” Nguyen said, “I think it’s going to leave gaps for us attacking players to find the counterattack.”

New England has likely been feeding off the memory of last year’s second leg debacle against Sporting KC in the conference semifinals, so even if the Red Bulls play well, it’s unlikely to be a letdown game for the Revolution.

The Revs are one step away from their first MLS Cup since 2007, and if they get there, they want to do it their way.

It’s the final soccer game at Gillette Stadium in 2014, and the fans can expect more of the attractive, attacking soccer that’s made the Revs the toast of the Eastern Conference this fall.

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