FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Last weekend’s 2-1 loss to Seattle Sounders FC officially vanquished the New England Revolution’s hopes of participating in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but it didn’t entirely bring an end to the 2011 season.
Although the Revs have been assured of missing out on the postseason for the second straight year, they still have a trio of games remaining against the San Jose Earthquakes (Oct. 8), Columbus Crew (Oct. 15) and Toronto FC (Oct. 22). Both the Earthquakes and Crew will visit Gillette Stadium on successive weekends as the Revolution closes out a three-game home-stand, while the club will make one last trip north of the border for the season finale against TFC.
Despite the knowledge that their season will inevitably come to an end in just a few short weeks – regardless of their results – the players are adamant there will be no shortage of motivation in Foxborough.
“Simply pride,” said third-year defender Darrius Barnes when asked what will drive the team in the final weeks. “Just trying to move this team forward instead of going backward … just trying to get better. If not as a team – of course, we want to get better as a team – but personally just going out there and trying to put your best foot forward game in and game out.”
“You have to be proud to be on this team and be in this league,” echoed Chris Tierney. “Any time you put on the jersey, whether or not it’s for working toward the playoffs, you have to give it 100 percent and represent the club and represent yourselves well. That’s always in the back of my mind when I go out there and I’m sure it is for the rest of us, as well.”
There are additional and potentially more practical motivating factors, as well, including the desire to secure a spot on the team for next season. Roster turnover is an inevitable part of each offseason and the next three weeks could serve as a final audition for the 2012 squad.
“You just have to stay professional and make sure that you keep trying to improve every day,” said Tierney. “We’re looking forward to next year at this point.”
“It’s definitely tough, but at the end of the day, this is a job and everyone still has something to lose,” said Barnes. “People are playing for contracts for next year and going forward, so you definitely still have something to play for even though it’s not the postseason.”
Of particular importance to the Revs are their two remaining home games against San Jose and Columbus. The Revs have notched just four home wins this season – tied with the Earthquakes, D.C. United and Vancouver Whitecaps FC for the fewest in the league – and they’d love to reward their loyal fans with two more reasons to cheer.
“We definitely want to go out in front of the home fans and put on a good performance,” said Barnes. “It’s been a tough season and they’ve stuck with us through thick and thin. Hopefully they’ll continue to stick with us and come out and support us for these next two games, and we’ll try to turn it around next year, for sure.”