FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The playoff picture in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference could best be described as muddled entering the final month of the regular season.
Eight teams vying for five spots. Third place through eighth place separated by six points. It’s a mess.
The challenge facing the New England Revolution, however, is perfectly clear. With four games remaining – including three on the road – and a one-point gap to close in the race for the final playoff spot, the Revs know that anything shy of maximum points puts them in danger of missing out on the postseason party.
“We just have to take each game as it is,” said rookie midfielder Scott Caldwell. “We’ve got to get maximum points in just about every game. We’ll talk about it as the week goes on. We have to just think of [Saturday’s visit to New York] as another game; you can’t think of it as away from home or home. You just have to go out and perform.”
The next two weekends will see the Revs visit the first-place New York Red Bulls and third-place Montreal Impact, followed by a home-and-home set with the sixth-place Columbus Crew to close the regular season. No matter how you crunch the numbers, logic dictates that the Revs will likely need to cobble together a couple of road victories in order to stay in the playoff picture.
Unlike recent seasons, winning away from home is something the Revs have proven capable of in 2013. After totaling just three road wins in 2011 and 2012 combined, New England has picked up four victories on their travels this season, on top of four draws.
Belief courses through the Revolution’s locker room entering this daunting stretch run, but there are no illusions about the task ahead. Navigating through October will require an extraordinary effort, and the Revs will be ready.
“Anything can happen,” said Caldwell. “We’ve just got to take care of stuff as much as we can on our own.”