After the Revolution host the Chicago Fire on Saturday night (7:30 p.m., CSN) at Gillette Stadium, New England will officially be halfway through the 2014 MLS regular season.
As you can tell by their 7-7-2 record, it’s been an up and down campaign thus far for the Revolution. The good news for them is that the Eastern Conference looks much easier to navigate than the loaded Western Conference.
Only four teams in the East have winning records which is how New England find themselves surprisingly in good shape. They are currently in third place — three points behind Sporting KC and five points behind DC United with a game in hand on both — with the top five making the playoffs.
Including Saturday, 10 of New England’s final 18 matches will be at Gillette Stadium where they have gone 4-2-1. The Revolution have a goal differential of plus-6 at home and minus-6 on the road (3-5-1). Thanks to the scheduling quirks that were a byproduct of the World Cup, New England hasn’t won a match since May 24 (2-1 vs. DC United). That sounds worse than it really is, but the fact remains that the Revs have dropped their last four matches and have been outscored 9-2 in that span including back-to-back shutouts. They were the top team in the Eastern Conference before this recent slide.
The slide may have hit its peak on July 4 with a disappointing 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake. The Revolution surrendered two penalty kicks sandwiched around Darrius Barnes’ first goal of the season.
“I’m not going to talk about the referee over than the fact that from start to finish it was a little bit cynical,” head coach Jay Heaps said. “But then again, we fought hard, but we’ve got to do a little bit better job.”
New England has scored 23 goals as a team but their top goalscorer, midfielder Lee Nguyen, has only notched five.
Their depth is impressive though since 10 different players have found the back of the net, including budding star Diego Fagundez and promising rookie striker Patrick Mullins, who each have four goals. Chris Tierney, Daigo Kobayashi, Fagundez and Teal Bunbury are all tied for the team lead with three assists. The only player on the Revolution that’s a league leader in any statistical category is midfielder Andy Dorman who’s tied for the league lead with six yellow cards — not exactly what Heaps is looking for.
Chicago (2-4-10) is the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference so they are the right squad for New England to bounce back against. Not surprisingly, since they have a league-high 10 draws, the Fire tied the Revolution, 1-1, on April 19 at Toyota Park.
New England returned from their nearly three-week midseason break with a 3-1 loss to Philadelphia on June 28 at Gillette.
Follow Metro Boston sportswriter Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate.