FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A series of peculiar factors conspired to hand the New England Revolution an unexpected and an unorthodox 17-day break between games. Steve Nicol's side used the extensive respite to reach one conclusion ahead of Wednesday night's game at Philadelphia (8 pm, Galavisión).
Despite the presence of alluring external storylines like the apparently futile playoff chase and the injury-enforced absence of Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón (fractured right ring finger), the Revs have decided to train their focus inward to improve results over the last eight games of the season.
“I don't even know [how Philadelphia's 2-1 defeat at Real Salt Lake on Saturday and Mondragón's injury will impact the match], really, but, at this point, we're really worrying about ourselves and making sure we're right,” Revolution defender Ryan Cochrane told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “I don't think we've spent too much time worrying about what's going on with Philly and the rest of the league. We're really just trying to worry about ourselves at this point of the season and getting ready for Wednesday to come.”
Nicol has encouraged that approach to matters and reinforced the positives from recent showings during this lengthy layoff, but plenty of room for growth still remains for a side that have collected just four victories all season and hasn't won in their past six matches (0-4-2).
The postseason still remains a goal for the Revs for as long it is a mathematical possibility, though the main objective at this juncture involves turning those positive spells and traits – the ability to score first in eight out of the past ten matches, for example – into comprehensive performances.
“We need to put one good, 90-minute performance together to pick up a win,” Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber said. “That should be our first thought right now. Then we can start thinking about putting two good performances in a row. If we can potentially put together those performances in two, three, four games where we can pick up a good amount of points, then we can start thinking about the playoffs.”
With their postseason prayers on the back burner for the moment, the Revs will attempt to extract a measure of retribution against Peter Nowak's side after the Union sailed to a 3-0 victory at Gillette Stadium on July 17.
Milton Caraglio (left groin strain) and Matt Reis (left knee soreness and swelling) lead a group of four regulars who have shrugged off lingering injuries during the break and could start against Philadelphia, though Franco Coria (left MCL sprain) might not feature after spending nearly a month on the sidelines.
The squad news isn't all positive, however. Kenny Mansally (one-match suspension), Stephen McCarthy (left shoulder subluxation) and Sainey Nyassi (right MCL sprain) will all miss out entirely. Mansally did travel with the expanded squad to Philadelphia after returning from international duty with Gambia and should feature in Thursday's reserve match.
Those absences, however, will not distract the Revs from the task at hand and their desire to celebrate their return to competitive action by taking all three points at PPL Park.
“For us, every game is important,” Reis said. “We are in dire need of some points. We have to go in there, really put a strong defensive effort in and try to get a goal. That's what we've been trying to do all year. Hopefully, we can get everybody working together.”