For most of the 2004 campaign, lady luck has deserted the New England Revolution.
Missed penalties, a rash of injuries and fluke goals have contributed to a less than stellar campaign for Steve Nicol's charges.
Mired in last place for the majority of the season, the Revs are looking for the seemingly traditional late season kick to vault them into the playoff reckoning.
"You go through stretches that you can't explain," said Revolution midfielder Brian Kamler.
For the Revs, the fickle nature of luck may be changing at this crucial juncture, if Steve Ralston's first goal in last Saturday's 6-1 victory against Colorado is any indication.
"We're just lucky that the ball came right back to him," said Revolution striker Taylor Twellman. "We're lucky."
Twellman was referring to the 27th minute that canceled out an earlier strike from Jean-Philippe Peguero, a goal that at the moment put the league's best defensive outfit a goal ahead and seemingly well on their way to another success.
But Ralston, again a makeshift right back due to a Friday injury to center back Steve Howey, played a quick one-two with Richie Baker and fired a shot off Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon's left post.
"I tried to hit it to the far post," said Ralston. "Earlier in the season, it would have hit the outside of the post and gone away from me. This one came right back to me. Maybe our luck is changing."
The luck fell for the Revolution. As three Rapids watched, Ralston snuck after the fortuitous carom and tucked the ball past the helpless Cannon to level the scoreline. It sparked three additional goals over the next 14 minutes in the first stanza for the Revolution, on their way to six unanswered strikes.
"He didn't quit on his shot," said Revolution striker Pat Noonan. "He just kept going."
For Nicol and his side, Noonan's mantra, alongside a dash of luck, may provide the key to a third consecutive playoff campaign.
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.