HARRISON, N.J. – The New England Revolution officially clinched their spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs on Wednesday night, but not the way they’d hoped to do it, relying on Inter Miami CF’s loss to FC Dallas after the Revs fell victim to a late Aaron Long goal in a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls.
New England were minutes away from securing their second consecutive postseason berth on their own terms, as a draw at Red Bull Arena would’ve been enough. They were undone, however, by Long’s 89th-minute goal as he latched onto Tim Parker’s flick from Kaku’s corner.
It was the seventh goal the Revs have conceded from a corner kick this season, although there was consternation in the Revolution locker room that the goal wasn’t disallowed for a foul on Long, who appeared to pull down Tommy McNamara in order to free himself.
“It felt like it was a foul,” said McNamara. “He had two hands on me and threw me to the side to then get free. I spoke to the referee about it, complained about it. He said the VAR was checking it, no problem. But he didn’t go and look at it himself, and he just said ‘no foul.’”
“I don’t know exactly how it was going, but we know we have to be stronger with corners against us and that cannot happen that [opponents] score all the time on corners against us,” said Alex Büttner. “We need to do better there as a team.”
Until RBNY’s late breakthrough it was the Revs who looked the more likely side to find a winner, but for all their possession and endeavor, they failed to provide the finish. Diego Fagundez – who matched Shalrie Joseph’s club record for appearances by playing in his 261st regular-season game – scuffed a 17th-minute chance from 12 yards out, while Adam Buksa drilled his 71st-minute shot straight at Red Bulls’ goalkeeper Ryan Meara.
“Sometimes you need to have a little bit more luck if you cross the ball if you can score on the first ball or second ball,” said Büttner. “I think it’s just unlucky, but we played some good soccer today, as well, some good attacking things. It’s just unlucky, I think.”
The Revs will be hoping to change their fortunes in the final two games of the regular season, because although they’ve booked their spot in the playoffs, there’s still the matter of deciding where they’ll finish in the Eastern Conference standings. A top-six finish would be preferred as that would bypass the play-in round and an additional midweek game.
At present time the Revs occupy seventh place in the East, and they’ll look to their home finale against D.C. United this weekend and the proper finale against the Philadelphia Union on Decision Day to pull themselves back up the standings, and build some momentum ahead of the playoffs.
“We want to finish as high as possible on the table to put ourselves in the best position possible going into the playoffs,” said McNamara. “On top of that, we want to build some momentum going into it.
“I think our performances have been pretty well in the past few weeks. But we just haven’t quite been able to figure out how to get three points, whether it’s something defensively or something offensively. We really need to get ourselves over the line in these next two games. That’ll be important for us.”