Revs seek to ensure first round playoff spot against Union

By José Ríos

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The New England Revolution defeated D.C. United in a hard-fought 4-3 win on Sunday, Nov. 1., ensuring the club a place in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. 

New England looked shaky in the first half, conceding two goals before the 30th minute before rescuing a goal to cut D.C.’s lead to 2-1. The Revolution, however, were unrelentless in the second half. They tied the score in the 54th minute thanks to center back Russell Canouse’s own goal, and they secured the three points with a late brace from Teal Bunbury, who scored the winner in the 84th minute. 

New England dominated 62-percent of possession and recorded nine shots on goal—four more than the visitors. 

Going into today, however, New England will finish the regular season against the Philadelphia Union, who it has not beaten this season.

Philadelphia leads the Eastern Conference with 44 points—12 points ahead of sixth-place New England—and is coming off of a 2-1 loss to the fourth-place Columbus Crew. The Revs head into the match with heightened motivation as a win would cement their place in the first round of the playoffs and give them a bye week before the postseason begins. A loss could possibly bump New England into seventh or eighth place in the conference standings, which would send the team to a must-win play-in round.

There are two things that the Revolution have to be excited about ahead of today’s challenge—the return of forward Gustavo Bou and midfielder Carles Gil, who were recovering from hamstring and Achilles tendon injuries, respectively. Against D.C., Gil started the match while Bou was substituted on in the 46th minute.

Bou and Gil are two of the Revs’ three Designated Players—players who receive higher than the league average and are not considered under the club’s salary cap. Both players represent the heart and soul of the Revolution offense, and having both players fit is necessary if New England has any intentions of beating Philadelphia and making a playoff run.

Gil has appeared in five games this season, in which he recorded two assists, but he gives life to the Revolution offense when in the lineup. With the inclusion of him and Bou, who has tallied five goals and three assists this season, the Revs are in a good position moving forward. 

The Union will truly be a test for the Revolution’s defense, which has conceded 23 goals in 22 games. It must improve if New England wants to secure a win against the team that has scored 42 goals this season—the most amount of goals in the conference.

Wednesday’s win showed signs of uncertainty at the back, as D.C.’s first goal was the result of terrible marking by the defenders who left Yamil Asad alone to volley the ball into the back of the net. The same occurred on a free kick in the 26th minute which found another D.C. unmarked player, as well as in the 75th minute when D.C. scored off of a cross in which Gelmin Rivas was hardly challenged.

Another key for New England will be its commitment to attack and pressure its opponents, even when down on the scoreboard. Many teams struggle coming back from a two-goal deficit, butNew England has proven its ability to fight back and get on top of the game.

Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. at Subaru Park.