Pride and points on the line against LA
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With more than half of the 2010 MLS regular-season schedule still to be played, it’s far too early to rule any of the league’s 16 teams out of postseason contention. Despite the team’s recent struggles, that most definitely includes the New England Revolution, a club looking to earn a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs for the ninth straight year.
Entering this weekend’s round of games, the Revs (3-9-2, 11 pts.) are level with the Philadelphia Union, D.C. United and Chivas USA for the fewest points in the league, but all four clubs remain just eight points behind Toronto FC (5-4-4, 19 pts.) and the San Jose Earthquakes (5-4-4, 19 pts.) for the final postseason spot. Granted, it will take an impressive turnaround and a notable second-half run for the Revs to seriously contend, but with 48 points still there for the taking in the remaining 16 league games, it’s far from an impossible task.
However, there’s something even more important than points at stake on Saturday night when the Revolution welcomes the league-leading LA Galaxy to Gillette Stadium.
“We’re determined,” said Chris Tierney. “We’re fed up with results not going our way, so I think there was a little extra bite in training [this week].”
After suffering a humbling 5-0 loss to Real Salt Lake last Friday night, the Revs have won just once in their last 11 regular-season matches since starting the season by winning two of their first three. While the players were already eager to prove themselves entering Rio Tinto Stadium last weekend, the heavy defeat to the defending champions was perhaps the straw which broke the camel’s back.
“When you get embarrassed like that – and there’s no doubt about it, we got embarrassed out there – you want to come back the next game and make a statement,” said rookie defender Seth Sinovic. “What better game to make a statement than against the top team in the league right now?”
The Revolution will indeed have a chance to make a statement against the league’s most dominant team, the LA Galaxy, on Saturday night in Foxborough. Led by U.S. National Team star Landon Donovan (who leads the league with 10 assists) and his Nats counterpart Edson Buddle (who leads the league with 10 goals), the Galaxy (11-1-3, 36 pts.) has been nothing short of stellar in the first half of the season. Even though it’s possible Donovan will remain in Los Angeles this weekend in order to rest after his World Cup performance, the Galaxy is still undoubtedly one of the league’s best.
Considering the discrepancy in points between the Revs and Galaxy, combined with the fact that many experts already consider LA the clear favorite to hoist the MLS Cup in November, the challenges New England face this weekend are clear.
However, with their pride dented, the Revs are looking for some instant credibility. At this point, a victory over the seemingly untouchable Galaxy is perhaps the only way to make those around the league open their eyes with just one result.
“It’s huge,” said Sinovic of the opportunity the Revs have this weekend. “Nobody’s expecting us to get a win out of this game. It’s definitely going to be a morale boost and show that we’ve got some pride left if we can get a victory this weekend.”
Darrius Barnes – who will be available to play against the Galaxy for the first time since injuring his right foot and ankle in early May – agreed with Sinovic’s assessment, but went a step further to analyze the effect Saturday night’s game could have moving forward with the rest of the season.
“After getting beat like we did in Salt Lake, to come back and play the best team in the league – the team everybody on paper is giving the championship already – I feel like it can be a turning point in our season,” said Barnes.
However, the second-year defender was quick to warn that the Revolution’s fortunes won’t change without the requisite exertion being put forth.
“It’s going to be hard work,” Barnes said. “We can’t just think it’s going to flip on like a light switch and our ship is going to turn around. We have to take it one game at a time, take it one point at a time and just slowly chip away at it. Who better to get some momentum from than the best team in the league right now?”