New England Revolution clinch playoff spot despite terrible defensive play


The New England Revolution (15-13-4, 49 points) did what was needed to clinch a playoff berth against the Montreal Impact on Saturday afternoon from Stade Saputo. With a 2-2 draw, New England secured a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, while Montreal (6-18-8 26), remains at the bottom of the East. While the party in New England officially started, Revolution fans need to be concerned with something before the playoffs begin, the absolutely horrific play of the Revolution defense against the league’s worst team.

Montreal is the worst team in all Major League Soccer, no question about it. Despite having former Italian international, Marco Di Viao, leading the team in scoring with eight goals in 2014, the Impact cannot find ways to win games. Montreal is not a bad team on paper, but as all sports fans know, games are not won and lost on paper, just ask anyone whoever bet in Vegas on a game.

With last night’s draw, the season serious between the two clubs ends with a record of 1-1-1. In every match, one team scored two goals. Montreal shut-out the Revs 2-0, then New England won 2-1, now, the clubs finished off the serious with a 2-2 draw. A serious that New England easily should be 3-0 in, but because of defensive issues, Montreal used their attacking options to their advantage every game. 

If fans did not know the records of the two clubs going into this match, almost 100% of those watching, would easily have stated that Montreal must be the better club record-wise. Make as many statements as you want about the cold weather of Montreal effecting the Revolution players, but realistically, it did not slow anyone down, more than any other type of temperature for a game that has occurred this season.

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Revolution defender, Andrew Farrell did not play in his first match since March, and the Impact took full advantage of that. A.J. Sores, the man chosen to replace Farrell for the match, played a crucial role in the first Di Viao goal. While Jose Goncalves, the Revolution captain, flat-out got out muscled and out played on the second goal from Di Viao.

These defensive issues are not something most teams with a record like New England should experience this late in the season. With the MLS Cup playoffs just a few short weeks away, Head Coach, Jay Heaps must figure out what went wrong against such a weak opponent and make the proper changes as soon as possible.

Despite New England’s defense looking unorganized and shaky, goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth played a strong game. On both goals, Shuttleworth made terrific efforts to save the shot, but Di Vaio’s pacey efforts were just too much for the talented goalkeeper to stop. Shuttleworth tallied two saves on four total shots on goal during the match. The Impact out-shot New England 11-6, but Montreal struggled many times during the match with finishing the final pass and putting the ball into the back of the net. Shuttleworth kept the game as close as he did, thanks to his incredible ability of making plays at close range with all parts of his body.

New England’s offense did not dominant the run of play like most weeks, despite completing 502 passes during the match. The Revs finished the match with an 82% pass completion rating, one of their best of the season. Even with not controlling the entire match, the Revolution picked the perfect times to orchestrate the perfect sequence of passes to provide goal-scoring opportunities for their top players.

Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen each found the back of the net, proving yet again, that New England must rely on their talented midfielders in order to score goals. Even with the impressive play of forward, Charlie Davies, New England still does not own a forward that can take over a match, like other successful MLS clubs.

New England play just two more games before heading off to the 2014 MLS Cup playoffs. Their remaining matches pit them against the Houston Dynamo and Toronto FC. Houston cannot clinch a playoff spot, while TFC still have the smallest of changes to still qualify.

Finishing off their 2014 campaign on a high-note is a must for the Revolution. Both House and Toronto will provide the Revolution defense with issues, but handling those issues now, is the key to major post-season success.

The “Revs Report” is Playing For 90’s newest team specific featured column on the New England Revolution. Check out the “Revs Report” for the latest news and opinions about the Revolution from our editor, Baxter Colburn.