New England Revolution, 90 minutes from MLS Cup, must simply avoid second-leg disaster vs. Red Bulls
The last time the New England Revolution lost a league game by two goals or more, the date was July 19 and the Revs hadn’t won a game in nearly two months.
So best of luck to the New York Red Bulls, whose only hopes to extend their season one more week in the second leg of the Eastern Conference Championship at Gillette Stadium on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN and online via Live Extra, 3 pm ET), is a victory by two or more goals; a one-goal victory at 3-2, or higher; or a 2-1 victory and penalty shootout triumph.
Since FC Dallas added to the Revs’ downward spiral, 2-0, in mid-July, Jay Heaps’ side has hardly looked back and become the in-form team in the league, losing only twice in their last 17 regular-season and playoff games.
That trend continued with a 2-1 first-leg win at Red Bull Arena last Sunday, featuring a pair of tiebreaking away goals. Lee Nguyen continued his sizzling MVP form, Jermaine Jones was once again a difference maker for the Revs and Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke put his side behind the eight-ball with a questionable second-half substitution — Tim Cahill for Eric Alexander — that led to the game-winning goal.
Now the Red Bulls find themselves down a goal, on the road, against the league’s hottest team since August and without the league’s leading goalscorer, Bradley Wright-Phillips, thanks to a very unnecessary yellow card in the first leg that earned him a one-game suspension for accumulation in the playoffs.
It makes so little sense that the Red Bulls would win the series on Saturday, that in this crazy Red Bulls world, maybe that’s exactly what we should expect them to do.
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Player to watch: Tim Cahill — The Australian made just 18 starts in 2014, including three the last two months of the regular season. He’s scored one goal for the Red Bulls since early May. With Wright-Phillips out, he’s finally going to be asked to play further up the field, in the attacking third. For many reasons, Cahill is a vitally important piece of Petke’s plan in leg two. If he doesn’t show up for the Red Bulls in a big way, who will?
Prediction: Revolution 2-1 Red Bulls