The Crew is in desperate need of three points against the New England Revolution, who sit just two points ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings. In order to leap frog them, the Crew is going to have to do something no other team has managed all season: beat the Revs on their own turf.
After a bad loss to woeful Colorado a few weeks ago and a draw with Chicago, the Revs got a win over Charlotte on Saturday. That propelled them into third in the Eastern Conference. Because of the schedule they’ve played in the last month, it’s difficult to tell if they’ve righted themselves after the shock of former head coach Bruce Arena’s resignation amid controversy. In the five games they played in September, none were against a team sitting in a playoff spot. The Crew poses their biggest challenge since playing Montreal back in August.
After struggling on the road most of the season, the Crew has played much better as of late. Another area where the team seems to have improved is on defense. In each of their last three matches, they’ve given up just two shots on goal. They must continue to win the one-on-one matchups. As I discussed earlier this week, defending set pieces are still an issue. The Crew’s attack lately has been good like it has been all season, but they need to find a way to get the ball into the net. For various reasons, their attack has not generated a goal in the last three games. This game against the Revs is the perfect time to break out of that slump. If we see any lineup change from Saturday night, it could be Sean Zawadzki, whose late header gave the Crew a draw the last time these two met, for Darlington Nagbe in midfield like the Chicago game two weeks ago. Personally, I’d really like to see Christian Ramirez get a start.
What’s at stake for the Crew? A chance to jump back into the top four in the Eastern Conference and take another step towards securing home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Considering all of the other teams in this playoff logjam are playing each other, a draw against the Revs doesn’t kill the Crew, but a loss really hurts. Getting a road win at New England, something no other team has done this year, will give this team a big boost. Not just in the standings, but in confidence as well.