FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It’s been more than seven months since the New England Revolution kicked off the 2016 MLS regular season in Houston, but on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, it’ll come to a close.
The Revs (10-14-9, 39 pts.) will host the Montreal Impact (11-10-12, 45 pts.) in the regular-season finale, with kickoff set for 4 p.m. Brad Feldman, Paul Mariner and Jessie Coffield will have the call in English on CSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub HD2, while Portuguese radio listeners can tune into WMVX 1570 AM.
Feldman and Mariner will also be part of the postgame “State of the Revs” wrap-up show on CSN, hosted by Kevin Walsh and with additional analysis from Revolution legend Shalrie Joseph.
Current Form: Revs aim to “finish the season strong” with a fifth win in seven games
Last weekend’s loss to the Chicago Fire dealt a devastating blow to the Revolution’s playoff hopes, as they’ll need a win over the Impact, a Philadelphia Union loss, and to close a 12-goal gap on goal differential to clinch a spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
It looks increasingly likely, then, that the Revs will miss out on the postseason for the first time since 2012 – head coach Jay Heaps’ first year in charge – but there’s still plenty of motivation ahead of Sunday’s finale as they look to make it five wins in seven games to close the campaign.
“It’s going to be tough. It’s been a tough year in general, but we have to close it well,” said Kei Kamara, who arrived via trade from Columbus Crew SC in May. “No matter what happens, we have to go in there [focused], and the way we carry ourselves in that game, we have to be professionals about it.”
Montreal’s late-season slide down the Eastern Conference standings – they went 1-5-2 from mid-August to late September – threatened to see them slip out of the playoff places altogether, but a recent turnaround (2-0-1 in their last three games) has helped the Impact clinch a postseason berth.
Mauro Biello’s side will begin the postseason with a midweek play-in game, but it remains to be seen whether that match will be home or away as the Impact could still finish fourth, fifth or sixth in the East.
“Focusing too much on them is going to be difficult to predict in terms of personnel,” said Heaps. “But in terms of how they play … that’s more important.”
Past Meetings: Sunday’s finale a rubber match after sides split pair of meetings in Montreal
This weekend’s meeting will be the third between New England and Montreal within the past four months, as the sides have already split a pair of meetings at Stade Saputo this season. The Impact won the first meeting, 3-2, back in early July, while the Revs turned the tables with a 3-1 victory just one month ago.
The Revolution’s win in the last meeting snapped a five-game winless run in the series (0-3-2), including a pair of games at Gillette Stadium, where the Revs are just 1-3-1 against the Impact all-time.
Kamara will be aiming to continue his recent success against Montreal on Sunday – he has five goals in three appearances against the Impact this season, including two prior to his trade from Columbus.
“I can’t look past it that I’m kind of lucky against Montreal,” Kamara said with a laugh. “I can’t wait.”
Injury Report: Femi and Watson ruled out for Sunday’s finale; Tierney questionable
Rookie forward Femi Hollinger-Janzen and versatile veteran Je-Vaughn Watson have both been ruled out for Sunday’s meeting with Montreal after Heaps said they both “took serious knocks.” Femi wasn’t on the game-day roster last weekend in Chicago, while Watson has missed the Revolution’s last six league games.
Chris Tierney, though, could be in line for a return after a hamstring injury kept him on the bench last weekend.
Xavier Kouassi remains unavailable, but the 26-year-old midfielder continues to progress following knee surgery and was doing ball-work with strength and conditioning coach Nick Downing early this week.
Final Thoughts: Heaps calls regular-season finale “a huge moment at home”
“We’ve been on a good uptick and we’ve got to finish the season strong,” said Heaps. “We have a huge crowd, a huge moment at home. It’s something that we really owe the group of fans, because they stuck by us through ups and downs this season, some frustrating moments. There’s going to be a big crowd and we’ve got to pay that tribute.”