FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution are staring down a must-win situation as they return home to host Orlando City SC on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
Now eight points back of the playoff places in the Eastern Conference with just three games remaining the Revs (8-12-11, 35 pts.) need a win this weekend to stay mathematically alive in the postseason race. A loss or draw on Saturday night would officially eliminate the Revolution from playoff contention.
Unfortunately the Revs-Orlando meeting isn’t the only match that could affect New England’s playoff standing on Saturday, as the Revolution’s postseason hopes could officially be dashed before they even kick off should D.C. United defeat FC Dallas (4:55 p.m.).
The Revs and Orlando City (7-19-4, 25 pts.) will get underway at 7:30 p.m., with NBC Sports Boston televising the match and streaming the action live on their website and mobile app. Radio listeners can catch the call in English on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and in Portuguese on 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Elizabeth Pehota and Jeff Lemieux will break down the starting lineups and storylines on Revolution Pregame LIVE, streaming on the Revs’ official Facebook page at 7 p.m. ET, while Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston.
Rob “Hardy” Poole and former Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms will handle postgame duties on 98.5 The Sports Hub, taking calls for 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Current Form: Revs aim to snap rare five-game home winless run; Orlando winless in 11
Juan Agudelo’s third goal of the season, scored deep into second-half stoppage time, proved to be mere consolation for the Revs last weekend as they fell 2-1 to league-leading Atlanta United FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The loss stretched the Revs’ winless run to four games (0-2-2) and left them on the brink of playoff elimination, but their mindset will remain steadfast until they’re mathematically out of contention.
“We put ourselves in a big hole,” head coach Brad Friedel admitted. “You never stop fighting while there’s still points on the board to play for, and the only way to keep ourselves in it is by beating Orlando. Hopefully we can get those three points, and it puts a little bit of pressure on the other teams.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a mountain to climb now, but like I said, you can never stop fighting or stop playing until the points aren’t there to get you in the playoffs anymore.”
In order to claim the three points they need the Revs will have to secure their first win at Gillette Stadium since June, as they’ve gone 0-2-3 in their last five home games, a rare blip for a team that’s been dominant at home in recent seasons.
Orlando City, meanwhile, have been shut out in four straight matches as they’ve stumbled to a 1-17-3 mark since mid-May. Their current winless run stands at 11 – a club record – and they’ve conceded 68 goals on the season, second-most in MLS.
Past Meetings: Revs, Lions played to wild 3-3 draw in early August
New England raced out to an early 2-0 lead in the most recent meeting between these sides on August 4 in Orlando, but the Lions roared back for a 3-3 draw, scoring the equalizer in second-half stoppage time.
The Revs generated 14 shots in that match – including seven on target – and they were left feeling like they’d created enough chances to comfortably put the game away before Orlando’s comeback.
“That was one of the performances where we definitely should’ve come away with three points,” said Friedel. “We could’ve put the game to bed in the first half.
“It’s up to us taking our chances when we get them. I think we will get chances against Orlando, and we have to put them away. That’s something we were doing in the first half of the season, and it’s something we’ve stopped doing in the second half of the season.”
This will be Orlando’s fourth visit to Gillette Stadium, where the Revs are unbeaten with two wins and a draw, including a 4-0 triumph in Foxborough last September.
Injury Report: Farrell (hamstring) out multiple weeks; Delamea, Herivaux on int’l duty
Andrew Farrell started the first 30 games of the season for the Revolution before missing last weekend’s trip to Atlanta, the stalwart defender sidelined by a hamstring injury suffered in Toronto two weeks ago.
Friedel said there’s no definitive timetable on Farrell’s return, but said he expects the former number one overall pick to miss “at least three” weeks, potentially putting his 2018 season in jeopardy.
Fellow defender Antonio Delamea and Homegrown midfielder Zach Herivaux – fresh off his first MLS start last weekend in Atlanta – will also be unavailable on Saturday as both are currently on international duty, Delamea representing Slovenia and Herivaux joining up with Haiti.
Final Thoughts: Fagundez says Revs need to “punish them every chance we get”
“We’re a much better team when we play at home,” said Diego Fagundez, referencing the 3-3 draw in Orlando. “We just have to go back at them and make sure that we punish them every chance we get, so the game never turns their way or in favor of them. I think with the team that we have and the players that we have, we can definitely do that.”