NEW YORK – The New England Revolution needed a result in Sunday evening’s regular-season finale to guarantee their spot in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs. They also needed a strong performance to put their recent struggles in the rearview mirror ahead of the postseason.
They got both.
Lee Nguyen, Charlie Davies and Kelyn Rowe scored in a comfortable 3-1 win over New York City FC at Yankee Stadium, earning the Revs a fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference and a Wednesday night date with D.C. United in the single-elimination Knockout Round.
“It was extremely important for us to get back on track heading into the playoffs,” said Davies, who marked his return to the starting lineup with one goal and one assist. “I felt like tonight we got that chemistry back. I feel like the team has got the excitement back. We’ve got a little bounce in our step.”
Davies linked up with Nguyen on the opening goal just two minutes into the game – his cutback calmly finished off by last year’s MVP finalist – then muscled off a defender and finished from a tight angle to double the Revolution’s lead shortly before halftime.
Rowe put the result beyond doubt just 10 minutes into the second half, gliding in at the near post to meet Chris Tierney’s corner kick and guide a flashing header past NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
“Today felt like last year’s playoff run where things are clicking,” said Davies. “Guys know where to be and the passes are being anticipated, Things felt really fluid tonight. We just have to look to improve and keep getting better.”
New England’s return to form is timely ahead of Wednesday night’s Knockout Round meeting with United, a single-elimination game with the winner moving on to the conference semifinals.
Perhaps no team in the league has been as streaky as the Revolution this year; they’ve put together a nine-game unbeaten run and a six-game winning streak, but also a five-game losing streak and the four-game winless run (0-3-1) they carried into Sunday’s regular-season finale.
“It’s a good building block,” Jay Heaps said of the win over NYCFC. “I like when we get some momentum, because when we get some momentum, we’re tough to play.”
The Revs will be hoping to use that momentum at RFK Stadium, where they’ll try to begin a postseason run similar to last year’s, which carried them all the way to MLS Cup.
“We’re a very experienced squad,” said Davies. “We’ve been through a lot as a team this year, as well as last year, and we can use that experience to our advantage.
“We know that the (regular) season now doesn’t mean anything. Now it’s the playoffs; one game you could be out. So it’s our cup final going into D.C., and we’re looking forward to it. We know what it takes to win, so we’ve just got to go out there and do it.”