To get everyone ready for Atlanta United's midweek match against the New England Revolution, we spoke with The Bent Musket's Jake Catanese to get his take on the Revs' playoff hopes, their poor away form, and perhaps a future soccer-specific stadium for them.
DSS: New England certainly aren't out of the playoff picture. What odds do you give them to make the playoffs and how tough is their schedule to finish the season?
TBM: Well, if you believe the legend that is ESPN's Paul Carr, the Revolution have a 16% chance to make the playoffs and I think that's a fair assessment.
The Revs are a long shot and they have only themselves to blame. They've been streaky for a few years and this year seem to have been let down by an unsettled defensive backline and a woeful road record. Antonio Delamea and midsummer signing Claude Dielna might be the starting centerback pairing for next year but it might be too late for New England to get back into the playoffs.
The Revs remaining schedule is four road games, three home games and it's a pretty brutal group of teams that includes Atlanta twice (home and away) and East leaders Toronto FC and New York City FC at home. Even if the Revs win all of their remaining home games, they're probably going to have to sweep all six points from Atlanta just to catch up to the Five Stripes. The Revs are four points back of Atlanta who have two games in hand. It doesn't look good for New England but if they do make the playoffs, they have the offensive talent to score with anyone in a series. The question that needs to be answered right now is can the defense stop any of the top teams in the East, and that's something the Revs need to figure out going into 2018, regardless of any potential playoff run this year.
I think Paul Carr is spot on. I give the Revs about a 20% chance to make the playoffs, but I'll up that to a 50/50 split with Atlanta if the Revs sweep the series here in the late stages.
DSS: Is there anything you can really contribute the Revolution's poor away form too?
TBM: Personally, I think this is a mentality issue and the Revs are not the only team that is incredibly good at home and horrendously bad on the road. Too many teams I think play for a draw form the start of the match, thinking that they can bunked down for 90 minutes. New England is exceptionally bad at this tactic, conceding a ton of late goals in generally but especially on the road over the past few years. The Revs best defense should be their offense, especially that awesome counter attack that gets stopped in favor of a more patient, possession based attack that the Revs aren't bad at but if we're being honest, this is a team that should be getting out on the run.
But this isn't a New England specific problem, really good teams like Houston and Sporting Kansas City have pretty stark home/away record splits as well. The difference is those two teams are probably going to make the playoffs out West and the Revs are sitting below the red line in the East. You have to get results on the road in MLS to be successful and for the last two years, the Revs have missed the playoffs and lack of road points is a major reason why.
DSS: I know I might be opening pandora's box by asking this, but what's the status on New England potentially getting a soccer-specific stadium? I know there were talks about it a few months ago, but any updates?
TBM: The status is pretty much the same, the Krafts have been looking for an SSS site for the better part of the last decade. The last update got fairly far along but as with most things, the Revolution higher ups tend to keep a lot of this stuff in-house. Important news like SSS updates and new player signings simply does not leak out of Foxboro, it just kind of shows up every now and then.
The Revs need an SSS if only to break away from the shadow of the NFL Patriots and in a way force the Krafts to truly care and invest in their MLS team. Yes, the owners did go out and spend some TAM on new players and the Jermaine Jones signing was as surprising as it was awesome during that 2014 MLS Cup run, but that's where the investment ends really. New England's front office is able to make solid trades and draft fairly well when they were rebuilding a few years ago but outside investment in players from the international market or USMNT has the team behind the rest of the league.
As far as the stadium goes, I'm a realist. Land in Boston is scarce, the Revs don't have to pay rent at Gillette at all so they're actually one of the few teams in the league that actually generate a profit. But how much of that money ends up back into the team? It's hard to say considering the Revs spend more GarberBucks than actual dollars it seems. There's no pressure for the Revs to get a new stadium ASAP, so they'll bide their time while the hardcore Revs fan base will make the long commute away from Boston.