FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution (14-11-9, 51 pts.) has clinched its first MLS Cup Playoffs berth since 2009 and will face Sporting Kansas City (17-10-7, 58 pts.) in Leg 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. and Comcast SportsNet will televise the game locally, while NBC Sports Network will carry the broadcast throughout the rest of the country.
The Revs are the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed and will host second-seeded Sporting KC on Saturday in the first game of the two-game, aggregate (total) goals semifinal series. The teams will play Leg 2 on either Wednesday, Nov. 6, or Thursday, Nov. 7, at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
The Revs, riding a six-game unbeaten streak (4-0-2), return to MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Revs and KC met twice during the 2013 regular season. The teams played to a scoreless draw at Gillette Stadium on March 23, before Kansas City earned a 3-0 win at Sporting Park on Aug. 10. This will be the first ever postseason meetings between the two teams.
THIS WEEK’S HEADLINES
Revs return to postseason
The Revolution have qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009 … this is the team’s 11th postseason appearance and the team’s first under second-year head coach Jay Heaps … in fact, the last time the Revs advanced to the playoffs, Heaps was in his final season playing for the Revs … the Revs previously qualified for the playoffs in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 … the team’s three-year postseason drought (2010, 2011, 2012) was the longest in club history.
Complete MLS Cup Playoffs bracket:
MLS Cup Playoffs Schedule (as of Oct. 28)
Wednesday, Oct. 30
Knockout Round: (W5) Colorado at (W4) Seattle, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBC Sports Network
Thursday, Oct. 31
Knockout Round: (E5) Montreal at (E4) Houston, 8:30 p.m. ET – NBC Sports Network
Saturday, Nov. 2
Conference Semifinal, Leg 1: (E2) Kansas City at (E3) New England, 8 p.m. ET – CSN & NBC Sports Network
Conference Semifinal, Leg 1: (W1) Portland at Winner W4/W5, 10 p.m. ET – NBC Sports Network
Sunday, Nov. 3
Conference Semifinal, Leg 1: (E1) New York at Winner E4/E5, 3:30 p.m. ET – NBC
Conference Semifinal, Leg 1: (W2) Real Salt Lake at (W3) LA, 9 p.m. ET – ESPN
How they got there
The Revs entered Sunday’s game against Columbus in a must-win situation in order to clinch a playoff berth and did exactly that … Juan Agudelo’s goal in the 28th minute proved to be enough as the Revs buckled down and punched their ticket to MLS Cup Playoffs with a 1-0 win over the Crew … while the Revolution entered the weekend in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, Houston’s victory over D.C. earlier in the afternoon on Sunday pushed the Revs into sixth place, meaning only a win would get the Revs into the postseason as they did not hold the tie-breaker.
First postseason clash with Kansas City
The Revolution and Sporting have met 49 times in MLS regular-season action, SuperLiga and U.S. Open Cup play, but have never met in MLS Cup Playoffs … Kansas City leads the all-time regular-season series between the two teams, 23-13-11 … the Revs have been held scoreless in their last five meetings against KC, including the club’s most recent 3-0 loss at Sporting Park on Aug. 10.
Hot at the right moment
The Revs enter the postseason riding one of MLS’ hottest streaks … the Revs are unbeaten in their last six matches, going 4-0-2 since Sept. 21 … since a controversial 3-2 loss at Chicago on Sept. 14, the Revs have defeated D.C. United at home (2-1, Sept. 21), tied the Houston Dynamo at home (1-1, Sept. 28), tied the Supporters Shield-winning New York Red Bulls on the road (2-2, Oct. 5), defeated Montreal on the road (1-0 on Oct. 12) and defeated the Columbus Crew twice (3-2, Oct. 19 at home; 1-0, Oct. 27 on the road) … three other teams finished the season on similar tears: the East’s No. 1 seed, New York finished on a 6-0-2 run; the West’s No. 1 seed, Portland finished on a 5-0-3 run; and San Jose, who just missed the playoffs via tie-breaker with Colorado finished on a 5-0-2 run … the Revs are the only team in MLS to finish the season with three straight wins.
Heaps and company have been here before
Jay Heaps will make his first postseason appearance as a coach on Saturday, but he’s no stranger to the MLS Cup Playoffs … Heaps was part of all four Revolution teams that advanced to MLS Cup (2002, 2005-07), and made a total of seven trips to the postseason (28 appearances, all starts) with the Revs ... goalkeeper Matt Reis, and defenders Chris Tierney, Kevin Alston and Darrius Barnes are the only remaining players from the 2009 squad, the last team to advance to the playoffs.
Defense finishes strong, example of season-long strength
The Revs defense ranked high all season and proved why on Sunday in Columbus … the Revs held a 1-0 lead from the 28th minute on to secure the win and advance to MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009 … on the season, the Revs recorded a 1.12 goals against average to tie for third in the league … additionally, the club posted a club-record 14 shutouts to rank second in the league …the team’s 1.12 GAA was the second-lowest in club history, three one-hundredths shy of the 2006 record mark of 1.09 GAA.
Defense led by ultimate captain
Jose Goncalves, in his first season with the Revs, has anchored the stout Revolution defense all season … earning the captain’s armband in May, Goncalves played every minute of all 34 games this season – one of only three field players in MLS to do so – on the way to earning front-runner status as the league’s defender of the year … Goncalves also scored a pair of crucial game-winning goals (at Columbus on July 20 and at Montreal on Oct. 12), while anchoring a top-three MLS defense all year … the team’s 14 shutouts this season are a team record, and the team’s GAA decreased from 1.29 in 2012 to 1.12 in 2013 … in true captain fashion, Goncalves suffered a hamstring injury within the first five minutes of Sunday’s season-deciding match at Columbus, but played the entire match and had a game-high 13 clearances.
Agudelo, Nguyen come up huge
Juan Agudelo scored his seventh goal – and third game-winner – as a member of the Revs in Sunday’s 1-0 win in Columbus … it was the forward’s first goal since the team’s 5-1 win over Philadelphia on Aug. 25 … Agudelo has scored a total of nine goals this season (including two while he was with Chivas USA) and added two assists … Lee Nguyen, who returned to the lineup after a one-game yellow-card accumulation suspension, chipped in with his team-leading fourth game-winning assist, as well … Nguyen finished the regular-season with four goals and seven assists.
Reis becomes first to go unbeaten
Matt Reis finished the 2013 regular season with a 7-0-4 record in 12 appearances in goal, becoming the first goalkeeper in MLS history to go unbeaten in a season while playing at least 10 games … Reis registered a career-best 0.72 goals against average and posted five shutouts … additionally, the Revs allowed more than one goal twice in which Reis played 90 minutes… Reis’ 11-game unbeaten streak matches the longest unbeaten run of his career (April 2 through June 11, 2005, 7-0-4) to open the 2005 season.
Points adding up
Sunday afternoon’s win in Columbus gave the Revs their 51st point of the season … the 51 points is the team’s highest point total since 2007, when the team secured 50 points by going 14-8-8 in the 30-game season … the 51 points is their second-highest point total ever, after the 59-point 2005 season.
Movember is the month of a Mustache
The Revs will literally show its support for Movember when the Revs grow mustaches as part of the charity’s annual November men’s cancer awareness campaign … friends, family and fans are encouraged to show their support for men’s cancer awareness by donating to the Revolution’s Movember team, or to individual MOs’ (mustache growers’) campaigns … Revs players who have committed to becoming MOs and growing mustaches to support Movember’s mission are Kevin Alston, Diego Fagundez and Chris Tierney as part of Gillette’s #AllStar team, and Andrew Farrell, Stephen McCarthy and Kelyn Rowe as part of the Revolution’s team … additionally, Revolution president Brian Bilello will grow a mustache for Movember, as well as many of the team’s male front office staff … the Midnight Riders and Rebellion, the team’s two supporters groups, have also committed to making mustaches de rigueur in November, and general fans are also encouraged to join the Revs’ team … information about joining the Revolution’s Movember team – or donating to the team or individual MOs – is available at www.mobro.co/nerevolution.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT INFO
Revolution vs. Sporting Kansas City (regular season): 13-23-11
*Saturday marks the first postseason meeting between the two clubs
- Kansas City leads the all-time, regular-season series between the two teams, 23-13-11
- Saturday’s match will be the first postseason meeting all-time between the two clubs … the teams played to a 0-0 draw at Gillette Stadium on March 23 in the Revs’ home opener before KC earned a 3-0 win at Sporting Park on Aug. 10
- New England is 6-12-5 all-time in games at Kansas City on the road, including a 0-2-2 mark at Sporting Park
- Kansas City won the three-game series last year, going 2-0-1 against the Revs, including a 1-0 win at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 4 … the Revs were held scoreless last year in all three meetings, losing 3-0 on March 17, drawing 0-0 on July 21, before the 1-0 loss at home on Aug. 4
- The Revs enter Saturday’s game having been held scoreless in their last five meetings against KC … the team is riding a 501-minute scoreless streak that stretches back to the team’s last goal against Kansas City: a 38th-minute tally by Rajko Lekic on July 30, 2011
- 31 matches between the clubs have been determined by one goal or fewer … 12 games have been decided by a two-goal spread, while just three matches – including the 3-0 KC victory in August – have been decided by three or more goals
- The teams have also met twice outside MLS regular-season competition: once in SuperLiga (a 1-1 draw in 2009), and once in the U.S. Open Cup (a 5-0 KC win on May 25, 2011)
- The Revs’ active leading scorer against Kansas City is Chad Barrett, who has four career goals against Sporting … all four of his goals came in 2006 and 2007, two each year while he was with Chicago
- Juan Toja has also previously scored against KC, a 2007 goal while he was with FC Dallas
- Clyde Simms has recorded two career assists in 21 appearances against KC … Simms recorded single assists in 2006 and 2007 while a member of D.C. United
- Chris Tierney has one assist against Kansas City, helping set up Shalrie Joseph’s game-winning strike on Oct. 16, 2010
- In 33 appearances (32 starts) against KC, Matt Reis is 11-11-10 with a 1.30 goals against average and eight shutouts
- Matt Reis set his single-game high of 11 saves against KC in a 0-0 draw on July 11, 2009, at Gillette Stadium
- Reis also recorded an assist – his first since 2007 – on the Revs’ only goal in a 1-1 draw on July 30, 2011, at Sporting Park
- Bobby Shuttleworth is 1-1-0 in two career appearances against KC with one shutout and a 1.50 goals against average … on Oct. 16, 2010, Shuttleworth posted his first career shutout, a four-save effort against Sporting KC at Gillette Stadium
- The Revs’ goalkeepers split the two games against KC this year with Matt Reis posting a shutout in the 0-0 draw at Gillette Stadium on March 23, and Bobby Shuttleworth suffering the 3-0 loss at Sporting Park on Aug. 10