New England Soccer Today

50/50 Friday: Will the Revs make the playoffs this season?

It’s back! With the start of the MLS season just underway, 50/50 Friday makes its 2011 debut. This week, our writers debate a question on the mind of many Revolution supporters: will the Revs return to the playoffs this season?

Answering in the affirmative is Sean Donahue, who gives his reasons why, yes, the team will make a playoff appearance this season. Presenting the counterargument is Brian O’Connell, who believes that the 2011 MLS playoffs will proceed without the Revs.

Sean: Yes. The Revs won’t be contenders this season, but they should have enough to make the playoffs. The Revs have improved their squad just enough for the team to finish in the top 56% of the league and will benefit from MLS expanding the playoffs to ten teams. While injuries are already a worry again with new signings and expected starters Ousmane Dabo and Didier Domi both likely out for the opener, the team has enough depth this season to get past it. Marko Perovic and Ilija Stolica should benefit from a full preseason with the team and spearhead the Revs attack in 2011. Ryan Kinne could prove to be the steal of the draft and competing with Sainey Nyassi for playing time should only benefit both of the young players. The potential addition of a Designated Player-caliber striker, even if it comes midseason, should further help the Revs improve over last season.

The Revs do still need to worry about finding a solid back-up for Kevin Alston as the oft-injured starter cannot be relied upon to last the season and is already set to miss the season opener. That the team actually has seven natural defenders on the roster compared to an insanely low five last season should help alleviate the problem as the Revs ought to avoid shifting starters out of position in the defense or midfield to fill gaps on the backline.

All this is not to say the Revs will be world-beaters. The Western Conference will again show it’s superiority to the East all season and six clubs are likely to emerge from the West in the playoffs. However it’s hard to see Chivas USA or one of the expansion sides grabbing the final wild card, which should leave the East with four spots. New York is an obvious choice and Kansas City and Columbus may have a slight edge over the rest of the field as well. New England, however, have improved just enough this offseason to be in the conversation with the latter two teams and there is no reason why they shouldn’t grab a playoff spot over the likes of D.C., Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Toronto.

Brian: The Revs, as presently constituted, are in no way, shape, or form a playoff team. Bottom line. Yes, they added proven veterans to the rear and midfield which should improve their form after last season’s embarrassing campaign. And yes, they waved goodbye to a few of last year’s weak links.

But, improvement alone does not equal regular season success. They’re still incredibly shallow at right back, and rely far too heavily on utility-type players to get the job done. Most importantly, they still lack a pure scorer to alleviate the pressure on a defense that may take awhile to gel. To quote former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Mora: “Playoffs??? Are you kidding me? Playoffs?”

You have to give the front office props, though. They essentially dismantled last year’s team and started from scratch. It wasn’t an easy thing to do. But, where’s that Designated Player Brian Bilello promised to deliver? Who’s going to step up and score the goals? Who’s going to stay healthy all season? Can Ousmane Dabo commandeer a midfield he just stepped into if Shalrie Joseph gets hurt or suspended? Why are they carrying three vacant roster spots? And why, on God’s green earth, is Zak Boggs second on the depth chart at right back? The Revs have no choice but to hope for the best with this bunch.

In short, there are simply too many questions, and not enough talent to propel them into the playoffs. Unless the front office miraculously signs a DPA-caliber striker and Steve Nicol manages to press all the right buttons every night in order squeeze out every drop of talent this club has, it’s highly unlikely that the Revs return to the playoffs this fall – even with two additional berths at stake.

Join the discussion. Do you think the Revs have what it’ll take to make the playoffs this season? Comment below to offer your reasons on why the postseason is – or isn’t – within grasp this year.


  1. GreyGhostX

    March 18, 2011 at 10:47 am

    My fear is we have a middle of the road defense and a middle of the road attack. If either end of the field outperforms, we’ll have a chance to sneak in the back door of the playoffs for sure.

  2. Tom

    March 19, 2011 at 2:00 am

    I hate to be gloomy but just like 2009 and 2010 it looks like the most suspenseful things in 2011 will be how much age and injuries allow the veterans to play and whether any younger players shine. If those don’t turn out well the main suspense will be seeing how team and fan morale holds up as the losses start piling up.

    I’m not expecting a playoff berth. Maybe missing the playoffs again would be a good thing for the Revs — it’s not clear to me that the Kraft organization was shaken up enough by 2010 — they seem to be trying but they don’t seem too adept at rebuilding. Maybe it will be time to change/add staff as well as players.

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