The New England Revolution’s victory over Columbus last weekend officially eliminated the Crew from playoff contention.
Columbus may have a chance to return the favor.
New England looks to take the suspense out of any potential playoff scenarios and clinch a postseason berth with a road victory Sunday.
The Revolution (13-11-9) helped trim the list of Eastern Conference playoff contenders last Sunday by knocking off Columbus 3-2 on Diego Fagundez’s goal in the 76th minute, improving to 3-0-2 in their last five.
New England is tied with Houston for the East’s fifth and final playoff spot, one point behind Chicago and Montreal, which are tied for third. A win in the regular-season finale would clinch a playoff spot, but the Revs know it won’t be easy to beat the same team in back-to-back games.
“First of all, they’re at their home field, so it’s going to be a tougher game for us,” Fagundez said. “It’s going to be the same fight as it was here. But of course we have to go out there and fix everything we can from last game and hopefully get a result.”
Anything but a victory would create more scenarios for the Revolution to get in. A loss would leave New England in need of D.C. victory over Houston, while a draw would mean the Dynamo need to lose or draw.
“It’s obviously what you work for and it’s a position to be in to control your destiny if you win, but it’s a tough destiny,” coach Jay Heaps said. “We’re going to a tough place to play and we have to be able to prepare ourselves and have that focus and attention to detail.”
Goalkeeper Matt Reis said the Revolution need to find a balance of intensity and focus for such an important match.
“I think you try to keep it bottled in,” Reis said. “In the back of our minds we all know the intensity and what’s on the line here, but you try and go about it just as a normal game. We have our game plan, we’ve got to follow it and we’re going to try and get a result.”
The Crew (12-16-5) are going to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season despite a late run under interim coach Brian Bliss, who replaced the fired Robert Warzycha on Sept. 2.
Bliss won four of his first five contests before losing the last two, and it’s unclear if he’ll return as coach next season. Owner Anthony Precourt hasn’t been shy about confirming interviews with potential candidates, though he did say Bliss is a finalist for the full-time job.
“We are leaving no stone unturned. There’s not a pre-cast prototype,” Precourt told the league’s official website.
Even with an insignificant regular-season finale, the Crew don’t plan on giving anything less than their best effort.
“There is something at stake, we owe it to the fans,” said forward Dominic Oduro, who leads the team with 13 goals after netting one last weekend against New England. “We tried, but we couldn’t get to where we want to be. We owe it to them.”
Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen is eligible to return after serving a one-game suspension, though it’s unclear if he’ll be in the starting lineup for this contest.