FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The stakes are not high for New England in Saturday's home finale against Columbus, but the goals are quite clear.
“We just want to send our fans away with a win and an a exciting game because there hasn't been all that much to cheer about this year,” Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week.
Accomplishing those two objectives could prove difficult. New England enter Saturday's match at Gillette Stadium (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) against the playoff-chasing Crew with just five wins on the season - four of those at home - and four consecutive losses on the ledger. While the Revs have cobbled together decent spells at times, they have not managed to conjure up complete performances or reap many benefits from their determined approach to the game.
“It's frustrating for the fellas,” Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. “They're putting the work in, but we're not finishing anything off and we're making mistakes. It's not really too hard to work out.”
Changing the calculus appears impossible at this late juncture in the season, particularly with the likes of Matt Reis (hamstring) and A.J. Soares (ankle surgery) ruled out through injury. The personnel news isn't all bad – Rajko Lekic (left ankle sprain) and Sainey Nyassi (knee/hamstring) look set to return before the end of the year after they were upgraded to probable on Friday's injury list – but it does reinforce the need to enter the match with the appropriate level of application.
“[We just need to] keep pushing, keep grinding away,” Tierney said. “Eventually, I think we're due to score on some of these chances we've been creating and I think we've done well to create enough chances. We've just been giving up soft goals.”
Similar issues ravaged the Revs during a 3-1 loss at Columbus on Aug. 13 and could once again prove fatal on Saturday night. Robert Warzycha's side needs a result to consolidate its spot in the top three in the Eastern Conference playoff race. With the influential Eddie Gaven back in the fold after a long injury layoff, the Crew will want the full three points to fuel their playoff push.
Nicol expects Columbus to enter Gillette Stadium with additional urgency given its tenuous postseason future, but he noted that his side will possess the impetus to make life difficult in its final home game of the season.
“They're going for the playoffs, so they have to come in and get something from the game,” Nicol said. “It should be a decent game because we want to win the game. The last two games aren't just for fun. We want to get some points and we want to win. We do have pride. We're not happy with the way the season's gone, but we've certainly got our pride. That's exactly what we'll be playing for.”