With only nine matches left in the 2015 regular season (four at Gillette Stadium, five on the road), the Revolution (9-9-7) are starting to put together a good string of results with an eye towards the playoffs. Following a bizarre 2-0 win over Houston (8-9-7) last weekend – in a match that was delayed not once, but twice by lightning in Foxboro – New England stretched its modest unbeaten streak to four games (3-0-1). More importantly, they kept pace with Columbus (9-8-7) so they are tied for third place in the Eastern Conference (with the Crew still holding one game in hand). It was the second clean sheet in the past four games for the Revs, who have scored eight goals and have allowed a total of just three goals during this important part of their campaign.
Goal-scoring in soccer can be as fickle as the weather in New England so having a strong defense is usually a sound strategy in order to pile up the points in the long run. Central defender Jose Goncalves is the team’s captain and he had quite a performance to remember on Saturday: he scored the game-winning goal in the 69th minute (his first of the season) and helped to hold off the Dynamo attack for the entire night.
“Everyone is very focused and knows why we have to take points right now at the end of the season,” said Goncalves who was named to the MLS Team of the Week for his noteworthy efforts. This is the second time in August that New England heads into a bye week since its next match isn’t until Aug.29 (7 p.m., CSNNE) at PPL Park against the Philadelphia Union (6-13-6).
Good teams often take on the personality of their head coach and because Revs head coach Jay Heaps was a standout defender for so long in Major League Soccer, you can bet that defense will always be a primary focus for any of his squads. Seeing a goal come off a set piece, put in by Goncalves no less, had to feel like a bonus last week.
“His run to the back was something we’ve worked on, something he does well to at least sell front and then come back,” noted Heaps. “Obviously we had a little bit of a fortunate bounce but he was right there to finish it.”
The next three games for the Revolution (at Philadelphia, vs. Orlando and at Toronto) are all very winnable. In fact, each of those clubs are behind the Revs in the standings, with only Toronto currently in the playoff picture. If New England continues this strong play, they should be in line for home field advantage once the postseason begins in November.