FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution heads north of the border this weekend on the verge of clinching a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive season.
A win or draw on Saturday afternoon against the Montreal Impact (6-18-7, 25 pts.) would guarantee the Revs (15-13-3, 48 pts.) a place in the postseason – and a victory would at least temporarily see New England climb to within one point of D.C. United at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
Kickoff from Stade Saputo is set for 4 p.m. on Saturday. Both Comcast SportsNet and 98.5 The Sports Hub will have regional coverage.
Current Form: Gritty win over Columbus improves Revs’ record to 7-1-0 since mid-August
Although head coach Jay Heaps joked that “it wasn’t pretty,” last weekend’s hard-fought, 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew was the Revolution’s seventh victory in the last eight games, lifting the club into sole possession of second place in the East with just three games left on the schedule.
Lee Nguyen’s team-leading 14th goal of the year – a new single-season record for a Revolution midfielder – and a second consecutive game winner from Jermaine Jones did the damage offensively for the Revs, but it was the performance of goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth which turned heads on a rainy night in Foxborough.
“He was huge,” Scott Caldwell said of his goalkeeper. “We weren’t perfect by any means and he saved us many times. So it’s just important knowing that we’ve got someone back there who can get us out of a hole if need be.”
Montreal, which somewhat deceptively sits at the bottom of the MLS standings, is one of five teams already eliminated from playoff contention. But the Impact has been much improved in recent weeks, following up a seven-game losing streak with a more respectable 3-4-2 mark since mid-August.
Past Meetings: Rubber match on tap after Revs and Impact split season’s first two meetings
Home-field advantage has reigned supreme in this year’s Revs-Impact series, with Montreal claiming a 2-0 win at Stade Saputo in late May and New England returning the favor with a 2-1 win in Foxborough one month ago.
This season’s results have actually deviated from the norm, as road teams had found plenty of success in this series prior to 2014. Before their loss in May the Revs had picked up 1-0 wins on each of their last two visits to Stade Saputo, where they have an overall record of 2-2-0.
Injury Report: Rowe good to go after early departure last weekend; Dorman off the IR
Kelyn Rowe appears to be just fine after he limped off in the 69th minute of last weekend’s win over Columbus with a foot injury. The young midfielder was limited early in the week, but Heaps said that was simply a precautionary move to ensure Rowe was at full health.
“He took a good bruise,” Heaps said. “It was a bing-bang play and he was just carrying a pretty significant cleat mark, so we wanted to make sure he was alright.”
Rowe is not listed on New England’s official injury report, and neither is Andy Dorman, who’s nearing full health after missing the past 14 games with a significant knee sprain. And there’s even more exciting news for Dorman – he and his wife welcomed their first child, a baby girl, on Thursday night.
The Impact will be without six players because of injury and international duty this weekend, including four defenders. Adrian Lopez (knee) and Gege Soriola (shoulder) are both sidelined by injury, while Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare (Canada), Issey Nakajima-Farran (Canada), Karl W. Ouimette (Canada) and Eric Miller (U.S. U23s) are all on national team duty.
Final Thoughts: Revs taking a business-like approach with a postseason spot on the line
“We have three games left and they’re going to be tough,” said captain Jose Goncalves. “It starts on Saturday against Montreal and of course we know that if we win, we [are] 100 percent for sure in the playoffs.
“But it doesn’t end there. It’s game after game and the result is going to come out after the game on Saturday. So we’ll make sure we do our job, like we did in the last few games, and I believe that it’s going to come positively.”