A lengthy regular season (34 games) that began way back in early-March boils down to a single match for the Revolution (14-12-8) on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. Comcast Sports Net - Alt or streaming at MLS Live). As the fifth-seed in the Eastern Conference (out of sixteams), the Revs havetheirwork cut out for them as they face a knockout round game at RFK Stadium vs. D.C. United (15-13-6), the No. 4 seed. The winner of advances to face either the top-seeded Red Bulls (18-10-6) or the No. 2 Columbus Crew (15-11-8) in the Eastern Conference semifinalsbeginning on Sunday. The Revs and D.C. Unitedmet twice this season, with a1-1 draw on May 23 at Gillette Stadium and a 2-1 win by D.C. on June 21.
This past Sunday was called “Decision Day” in MLS asthey lined it up to have every team compete on the final day of the regular season. New England played its best match in over a month with a 3-1 win at Yankee Stadium vs. NYCFC (10-17-7). Conversely, D.C. had its lowest moment of the campaign: a stunning 5-0 loss at Columbus. Those results likely will have little to do with Wednesday’s outcome but you have to think that at the very least, the Revolution will come in with a little more confidence than D.C.
After scuffling at the end of the regular season, New England was happy to get its form back at the most critical time of the year.
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“It was extremely important for us to get back on track heading into the playoffs,” said striker Charlie Davies, who had a goal and assist in his return to the starting lineup. “I felt like we got that chemistry back. I feel like the team has gotten that excitement back. We’ve got a little bounce in our step.”
The cliché of"you can ignore records in a one-game scenario" is probably true, but you can’t overlook these numbers: D.C. is 11-3-3 at RFK this season (secondbest record in the East) while New England is just 5-10-2 on the road in 2015. As bad as that looks for the Revolution, keep in mind that three playoff teams in the East had worse road records and only one (Vancouver) in all of MLS was even .500 (7-7-3) on the road this season.
In this type of format, scoring first is absolutely vital. Putting together a comeback, especially on the road, would be very difficult for the Revs given the pressure that they would be under with the clock constantly ticking. For the season, D.C. scored 43 goals and allowed 45 while New England scored 48 and allowed 47. For what it’s worth, D.C. is the only playoff team in either conference with a negative goal-differential. Expect a tight contest that could very well go to extra time.