FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It’s been a tumultuous September for the New England Revolution, with sixth-year coach Jay Heaps getting dealt a pink slip after a 7-0 loss to Atlanta United, followed later in the month by a 6-1 defeat at the hands of fellow playoff hopeful Orlando City SC.
Even after those recent embarrassments, the Revs (11-15-6) still had a glimmer of control over their fate in the race for the last Eastern Conference playoff spot heading into Saturday’s rematch against Atlanta, as they sat five points back of the struggling New York Red Bulls.
Those hopes of salvaging another up-and-down season took a hit on Saturday, though, as the Revolution couldn’t find the back of the net in a 0-0 draw against the Five Stripes.
“I think we did our best out there,” Revs center back Antonio Delamea said. “Every player who stepped on the field gave everything, but today it unfortunately wasn’t enough. We are all very, very disappointed, because I think now we are probably out of the playoffs for sure.”
Playing without the injured Miguel Almiron, and with another match ahead on Tuesday, Atlanta seemed content to settle for a point as the likes of Lee Nguyen, Juan Agudelo, Kei Kamara and Diego Fagundez were silenced by United goalkeeper Brad Guzan with the Revs’ season in the balance.
“This one hurts and obviously the last one, too, could have put us in a good spot,” Nguyen said. “Unfortunate that we were hard done by that call and can’t take it back, but that’s two games right there that could have put us in a good position. Now, we’re hoping to see the results fall our way, but not getting three here makes our chances get a little slimmer.”
Nguyen was referring to the Orlando City loss on Wednesday, during which Xavier Kouassi was shown a red card after a video review in the 11th minute of a scoreless game. MLS later rescinded the booking.
The Revs’ only remaining path to the playoffs is if they win their home finale against New York City FC and beat the Montreal Impact on the road, and then hope the Red Bulls to go winless over their final three matches.
Just the Revolution’s part alone is a tall task, with NYCFC still playing for playoff seeding and David Villa for the MLS Golden Boot. Although the Revs beat the Impact, 1-0, earlier in September, New England is the only remaining team in MLS that’s winless on the road, going 0-13-3 this year.
“It’s hard for me to talk, I’m just a player,” Delamea said. “We show we can play with every team (at Gillette Stadium), and honestly I don’t know what’s the reason we can’t perform like this on the road. I think this is a question for some other guys, for our coaches, and they can answer it better.”
The Revs played like a playoff team at home in 2017, posting an 11-2-3 record that’s on par with the top five Eastern Conference teams, but the team’s road struggles produced extra expectations to perform at home, such as hoping for a win against a red-hot Atlanta United squad.
“I think a draw was a fair result, but for me personally it’s more like we should be learning something for next season,” Delamea said. “Our road mentality is very, very bad, and this is something we will have to improve.”