FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Atop the Supporters' Shield standings with five regular season games remaining, the New England Revolution (20-4-5, 65 pts.) have already secured first place in the East and a first-round bye in the playoffs, but their focus leading into the final stretch of the campaign isn’t on their success so far.
Instead, they're honed in on how they can increase that success moving forward.
With a 16-day break from matches, it provides the squad a perfect opportunity for an honest assessment of recent performances, and to build and progress particular parts of their game.
“For me, at least personally, I feel like we haven’t kept a lot of clean sheets, so I would like to keep a couple more clean sheets,” said Henry Kessler. “I think that would be beneficial, and keep the ball out of our own net, so stuff like that.
“Defensively, I think we can get a little better.”
Still, the Revs have conceded just six goals in their last six games and have found ways to grind out results, going unbeaten in that stretch (5-0-1).
Even with setbacks throughout the campaign – going down to 10 men, international call ups, heavy rotation, injuries, etc. – the Revs know how to get the job done. Their 20 wins consist of 16 victories by one-goal margins, showcasing their ability to secure and close out three points in all of those situations.
“We can win in different ways,” said Kessler. “We have a deep team, we can do it with different guys. Whether it’s 3-2, 1-0 – most of our regular guys or guys that don’t normally start – we get the job done. We have a deep squad with a lot of good talent, and we’re versatile.”
As the Revs look toward the postseason, having an adaptable team shows that their entire roster – both starters and depth players – knows how to secure wins in any fashion.
“We’re a resilient group,” said DeJuan Jones. “We never give up. We’ve faced a lot of adversity this year with whether it would be injuries, international call ups and it’s really been the next man up mentality for us.
“This is a really great group. We have a lot of depth. It’s nice that everyone can be happy for one another, support each other and help each other get better in practice.”
The desire of this squad to improve each and every day stands out, and New England is leveraging that before getting back into the final five games of the season beginning October 16 against Chicago Fire FC at Gillette Stadium.
“We're [working on] getting our team better, getting everyone healthy, and getting through the last five games in the regular season and see what makes sense as we get our team ready for the playoffs,” said Bruce Arena. “We're not going to be playing a playoff game until, I believe, November 30. So, we have some time to figure things out.”
What the Revs do know is that they have a roster that's is willing to fight for each other, and a coach that enables the group to always feel their best on and off the field.
“Bruce has done a great job of just managing everybody physically, mentally, and emotionally and been able to kind of get guys to start the season strong, which we never have done since I've been in New England, and we just sort of kept that rolling,” said Matt Turner.
“It's been a great season, but we have nothing to hang our hats on just yet.”