FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Not for the first time, “consistency” was a buzzword as the New England Revolution reflected on what went wrong during the 2016 campaign.
Despite a late-season push for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot, New England had dug themselves too deep a hole by the start of September, due in large part to a pair of six-game winless runs (both in April/May and July/August) and a separate three-game losing streak in June/July.
Those lengthy spells without a win are a trend that’s been tough for the Revs to shake in recent years.
“The past couple years you’ve seen a lot of downsides, whether it be a long stretch of eight, nine, 10 games that weren’t so great,” said Kelyn Rowe. “This year, we had the same. We need to get out of that rut. That shouldn’t be a regular thing.”
It has, however, been a regular thing for the Revs the past three seasons. They had three winless runs of four-or-more games in 2015 – including a five-game losing streak – and needed a 7-0-1 burst late in the season to clinch a playoff spot. Even in 2014, when they reached the MLS Cup final, they overcame an eight-game losing streak by going 9-1-1 through their final 11 games.
Of course, identifying those lengthy skids as the root of the problem is the simple part. It’s correcting the issue that will be the biggest task for the Revs when the 2017 season kicks off next March.
“It’s about finding that mentality where if things are going wrong for one or two games, you stop the bleeding there as opposed to getting on a run where you lose four or five straight,” said Chris Tierney. “That’s sort of been our problem as of the last two years. We’ve gone on runs where we haven’t won games and some really long streaks, and that comes back to bite you at the end of the year.”
That was the case this year, as the Revs put together another late run (5-2-0) to keep themselves in the mix for a fourth straight postseason berth. But on this occasion, it proved too steep a hill to climb.
Come 2017, the Revs will hope to keep themselves on a more level path from March to October.
“If we took care of stuff maybe at the beginning part of the season or through the summer, we probably wouldn’t have left ourselves in that situation,” said Brad Knighton. “But time’s now for reflection and to kind of reflect on what maybe we can do differently next year going forward, so we’re not putting ourselves in that predicament.”