There is work to be done, for sure, but the New England Revolution have delivered a statement. In outscoring opponents 7-1 over their last two games, the Revs have vaulted back into a playoff position and served notice that they have the ability, as much as anyone in the Eastern Conference, to absolutely dominate.
Such is the situation as New England heads into the final nine games of the season. A postseason berth, while nowhere near assured (the Revs currently hold the fifth and final playoff spot in the East), is very much within reach after three seasons on the outside looking in.
Here are a few things to look for heading down the stretch.
1. The schedule
The Revs have opportunities in a handful of games against lesser opponents. Of the nine remaining contests, one is against lowly D.C. United and another against almost-as-low Toronto FC, this coming Friday. It ends with a home-and-home set versus Columbus, another bottom-feeder in the East. That means four games against three teams with a combined record of 15-41-19.
There are also two meetings with first-place Montreal, which leads New England by just five points. Opportunity knocks.
It doesn’t always translate to success in the next game, but the 5-1 whipping of Philadelphia on Sunday has to give head coach Jay Heaps’ crew a degree of optimism. While he said he is only focused on getting points when he can, his charges understand the significance of playing so well when wins are so necessary.
“This is a huge game, an in-conference game,” said veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis, who has started the last two games. “We knew all these games have playoff implications for us now. We’re kind of trying to climb the ladder. We did a great job of responding tonight.”
To illustrate how notable the victory was, consider that New England was 0-5-3 in its first eight games against Philadelphia.
3. Scoring punch
Kelyn Rowe scored twice in the rout, one of which is up for MLS Goal of the Week. The 21-year-old midfielder became the second New England player to take home league Player of the Week honors. Also providing plenty of scoring punch of late is Juan Agudelo, who has returned from a knee injury to score three goals in two games. Just 20, Agudelo joins Rowe in an extremely impressive youth movement that signals even better things to come.
Their efforts helped offset the absence of forward Saer Sene, who was serving a one-game suspension.