MONTREAL – This weekend the New England Revolution’s focus returns squarely to the Eastern Conference playoff race and the final five games of the regular season, as they’ll visit the Montreal Impact on Saturday night at Stade Saputo with three critical points on the line.
Just five points separate the seventh-place Revs (8-12-9, 33 pts.) from the fifth-place Impact (9-8-11, 38 pts.), who’ll kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night. Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner will have the call on CSN and 98.5 The Sports Hub, while Portuguese radio listeners can tune into WMVX 1570 AM.
After the game, stay tuned to 98.5 The Sports Hub for a 30-minute call-in show hosted by Rich Keefe and with analysis from Revolution legend Shalrie Joseph.
Current Form: Back-to-back league wins have Revs firmly in the playoff hunt
Juan Agudelo continued his torrid form (four goals, one assist in the last three games) with a pair of strikes in Tuesday night’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Revs past FC Dallas, who claimed their first title since 1997 with a 4-2 triumph.
The loss stung, but New England don’t have any time to lick their wounds. Consecutive wins in their last two league matches – over Colorado and NYCFC – have the Revs very much in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but they still find themselves on the outside looking in with five games remaining.
That makes Saturday night’s match – and the four to follow – critically important for the Revolution.
“We have to treat it like a playoff right now, because every game matters,” said Diego Fagundez. “If you win one game, you’re already moving up (the standings).”
“Absolutely every game is a must-win, really,” added Scott Caldwell. “If we drop points, then we’re falling further behind the competition and we can’t afford to do that.”
A difficult run of results has seen the Impact fall back into the playoff race, as Mauro Biello’s side has gone 1-3-2 in the past six league matches. Perhaps most surprising has been Montreal’s home form, as they’re 0-2-1 in their last three games at Stade Saputo and have been outscored by a margin of 8-2 in that stretch.
Past Meetings: Revs hoping to turn the tides after recent struggles against Montreal
New England’s last visit to Stade Saputo started brightly – Kei Kamara scored his first two league goals with the Revs to hand the visitors a 2-0 lead – but the Impact stormed back to claim a 3-2 victory.
It was a result that allowed Montreal to maintain the upper hand in the recent series, as the Impact have now won the last three meetings while going unbeaten in the last five (3-0-2). New England’s last win over Montreal came during their red-hot run at the end of the 2014 regular season.
The Revs have, however, found success at Stade Saputo in the past, claiming 1-0 wins north of the border towards the end of both the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons.
Injury Report: Koffie and Watson both sidelined for Saturday night’s game
Injuries forced both Gershon Koffie (ankle) and Je-Vaughn Watson (groin) off in the first half of Tuesday night’s U.S. Open Cup final, and those injuries will sideline both for this weekend’s trip to Montreal.
Koffie’s absence is of particular note as he’s played a critical role in New England’s new midfield setup, operating at the base of the club’s diamond. The Revs were, however, preparing for Koffie’s absence regardless as he’s also suspended for Saturday night’s game because of yellow card accumulation.
“It’s a really tough blow,” said Caldwell, one candidate to fill in for Koffie at the base of New England’s midfield. “Gershon’s been playing really, really well. We’ll just have to deal with it. We have a lot of guys who are capable of playing in the midfield, whether that be guys shifting spots or whatever.
“We’ll have to deal with it and we’ll work on it on the training field.”
Final Thoughts: Crucial games keep coming for Revs as playoff race heats up
“Saturday’s a crucial game,” said Fagundez. “We’ll decide if we’re going to go all the way or not make it. I think everybody knows that and we’re all ready for it. If we play our game like we did against New York City FC, I think we can definitely get the three points and keep going forward.”