FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Get ready for some serious scoreboard watching.
With two games remaining in the regular season and the New England Revolution one agonizing point outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture, scenarios are beginning to take shape. The Revs likely need to win their final two matches against the Columbus Crew and get a bit of help to procure the desired postseason berth.
The good news is that the Revs don’t need a ton of help. The Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire and Montreal Impact all sit just one point ahead of New England, while the Houston Dynamo is also within striking distance at a three-point gap. Just a result or two here and there will do the trick, so long as the Revs take care of business.
Four games have direct implications on the Revolution’s playoff hopes this week, so let’s check them out.
Wednesday, Oct. 16
LA Galaxy (14-11-6, 48 pts.) vs. Montreal Impact (13-11-7, 46 pts.)
StubHub Center, 10:30 p.m. ET
Montreal is the only team in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand on the opposition, but the Impact will hit the 32-game mark on Wednesday night with a visit to the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center.
A positive result on the West Coast would give the Impact a bit of breathing room heading into the weekend, so Revolution fans will have to pull for the Galaxy to extend Montreal’s winless run to six games. As for motivation, this match is just as critical to LA, which sits one point above the sixth-place San Jose Earthquakes in the West.
Impact captain Davy Arnaud and center back Matteo Ferrari will both serve one-game suspensions for yellow card accumulation, while Ferrari’s central defensive partner, Alessandro Nesta, didn’t travel to LA. Meanwhile, the Galaxy could regain the services of Landon Donovan, who is questionable with an ankle injury after returning early from U.S. National Team duty.
Saturday, Oct. 19
Montreal Impact (13-11-7, 46 pts.) vs. Philadelphia Union (12-10-10, 46 pts.)
Stade Saputo, 2 p.m. ET
There will be no rest for the weary as the Impact will return home from the West Coast just in time for a Saturday afternoon meeting with fellow playoff chaser Philadelphia.
A draw likely suits the Revolution best here; a point apiece – combined with an Impact loss on Wednesday night – would open the door for the Revs to leapfrog both teams with a win over the Crew on Saturday night.
These two sides did meet just seven weeks ago at PPL Park and played to a scoreless draw. A repeat performance on Saturday afternoon would suit the Revolution just fine.
Saturday, Oct. 19
Chicago Fire (13-12-7, 46 pts.) vs. Toronto FC (5-16-11, 26 pts.)
Toyota Park, 8:30 p.m. ET
Kicking off right around halftime of the Revolution-Crew match on Saturday night will be a critical matchup between sides which call themselves “the Men-in-Red” and “the Reds.” Because that’s not confusing.
Toronto FC has just five wins on the season, but a sixth would do wonders for the Revs, who’ll need the Fire to slip up at some point in order to catch them. TFC and Chicago played to a 1-1 draw recently at BMO Field.
Keep an eye on Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei, stepping in for the suspended Joe Bendik. The injury-plagued Frei hasn’t appeared in a league match since 2011 and should be more than hungry to impress.
Sunday, Oct. 20
Houston Dynamo (13-10-9, 48 pts.) vs. New York Red Bulls (15-9-8, 53 pts.)
BBVA Compass Stadium, 4 p.m. ET
Cheering for the Red Bulls isn’t typically advisable in New England, but it’s the smart thing to do when they visit the Houston Dynamo on Sunday afternoon.
New York has clinched a playoff spot and is out of reach for the Revs, but Houston remains within touching distance – so much so that a combination of results this weekend could see the Revs vault over everybody, including Houston, into third place in the East. But that’s only if Houston loses.
The good news? The Red Bulls visited BBVA Compass Stadium not long ago and ran out 4-1 winners.