FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A strong crop of youngsters has helped guide the New England Revolution to the brink of the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Diego Fagundez (18 years old), Juan Agudelo (20 years old) and Kelyn Rowe (21 years old) have played well beyond their years in driving the attack, while rookies Andrew Farrell (21 years old) and Scott Caldwell (22 years old) are also major contributors on both sides of the ball as every day starters.
Now, with pressure mounting each week and every game becoming increasingly important in the playoff race, those youngsters will lean on their veteran teammates for guidance as they head into uncharted territory.
“Obviously we’ve never been in a situation like this,” Farrell said of the Revolution’s younger players. “Maybe in college with the NCAA tournament, but this is completely different. You’ve got to take it one game at a time, you’ve got to win your individual battles and as a team you’ve got to defend well and score goals.”
One of the veterans Farrell will likely lean on most is his opposite outside back, Chris Tierney. The 27-year-old defender is one of only five players on the Revolution’s current roster who was around the last time New England made the playoffs in 2009.
Tierney admits that late-season games in the midst of a playoff race do carry a different kind of pressure, but his best piece of advice to his younger teammates can be summed up in one old adage: Do what got you here.
“These are huge games, there’s no doubt about it,” Tierney said. “But when it comes down to it, it’s two teams out on a soccer field. Sometimes you just try not to let the moment get the best of you. You go out and play soccer like we’ve been doing our whole lives.
“Us veteran guys who have been here before, we’ll just look to pass down any wisdom we may have from being in these spots before. But these guys have been in tough spots all year and they’ve reacted really well, so we expect the same this weekend.”