FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Win and they’re in.
Sunday evening’s regular-season home finale against New York City FC presents a simple formula for the New England Revolution: win and clinch a spot in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. There are also scenarios in which the Revs can clinch with a draw or loss – if they match results from the Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact, and Orlando City SC – but a win secures a postseason berth without the need for scoreboard watching.
Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is set for 5 p.m. – all six Eastern Conference games will begin simultaneously – with NBC Sports Boston televising the match and streaming the action live for authenticated subscribers on NBCSportsBoston.com and the NBC Sports mobile app.
Radio listeners can tune into 98.5 The Sports Hub HD2 and 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Pregame coverage begins at 4:15 p.m. with Revolution Pregame Live, as Elizabeth Pehota, Jeff Lemieux, and Charlie Davies will break down the starting lineups and biggest storylines, streaming live on the Revolution’s official Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channels, as well as on revolutionsoccer.net. They’ll also be joined by a special guest, 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup winner and Weymouth, Mass., native Sam Mewis.
Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston.
Current Form: Revs fresh off epic midweek comeback; NYCFC hottest team in MLS
The Revs have been fit to be tied recently as they’ve drawn six of their last eight games (1-1-6), most recently on Wednesday night in Portland, where late goals from Gustavo Bou (87’) and Carles Gil (97’+) helped the Revs rescue an epic 2-2 draw with the Timbers.
It’s a result that puts New England on the verge of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2015, and the emotion of their late comeback could provide the Revs with a shot of energy at a critical point in the season.
“Especially with having guys who haven’t played a lot of minutes this year step up and play, and really have big performances, and then having the guys come off the bench and contribute to the team,” said Andrew Farrell. “I think it’ll give us a little bit of energy, especially since it’s a home game coming up against New York City FC.”
NYCFC have been the league’s hottest team through the last two months, going unbeaten in nine (7-0-2) and climbing to the top of the Eastern Conference table. They’re a league-best 10-2-2 since mid-July and they can clinch the top spot in the East with a win or draw on Sunday.
“I think that sums it up that they’re the number one team in the East right now,” said Jalil Anibaba. “They’re dangerous. They’re scoring a lot of goals, and they’re playing good football.
“But like I said, we’re confident at home. The last time we played them, it was similar to the game that we just played (against Portland), to be honest, so we’re ready for anything that game will throw at us.”
Past Meetings: Controversy marred season’s first matchup between Revs and NYCFC
These two sides squared off at Yankee Stadium just three weeks ago, but controversy clouded the match as Revolution defender Antonio Delamea was sent off after just nine minutes in a decision that was ultimately deemed incorrect, as the suspension was later rescinded upon review.
The sending off marred what looked to be an entertaining contest as Juan Fernando Caicedo had given the Revs an early lead, but the shorthanded visitors ultimately couldn’t hang on as they conceded twice in the second half – including a penalty kick in stoppage time – to suffer a 2-1 loss.
“We can see how they play,” Farrell said of what the Revs can take from the recent meeting. “They always want to play out of the back and (we know) how we can press them. Obviously it’s different on a bigger field, but we’re excited to play against them again, 11-v-11, on even terms and on our own field.
The Revs have been largely successful in the brief series at Gillette Stadium, going 3-1-1 at home since NYCFC joined the league as an expansion team in 2015.
Injury Report: Revs feature fresh legs after making seven changes midweek
New England should have several fresh bodies ready for the challenge on Sunday as they featured a heavily-rotated lineup on Wednesday night at Providence Park, making seven changes from last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake.
Among those who didn’t start in Portland: Matt Turner, Luis Caicedo, Teal Bunbury, Cristian Penilla, Antonio Delamea, DeJuan Jones, and Wilfried Zahibo.
“We’re not going to lack any energy come Sunday,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “Our team is ready to go. We’ve done a good job in getting them through the week, and I think by kickoff on Sunday we’ll be ready to play a good 90 minutes.
NYCFC will be somewhat shorthanded on Sunday as the trio of Valentin Castellanos, Maxime Chanot, and Alex Ring will be suspended for yellow-card accumulation, though leading scorer Heber did return from injury midweek, coming off the bench to score the fourth goal in NYCFC’s 4-1 win over Atlanta United.
Final Thoughts: Revs sense urgency to get playoff spot secured on Sunday
“I think there’s urgency to get it wrapped up on Sunday, but also (to) do it our own way and not have to look at (other) results – just make sure we take care of our points and get the job done,” said Farrell. “We’re looking forward to that. I think the guys are excited. We rested some of our guys and some guys stepped up (against Portland), so we’ll have a full team of guys ready to go.”