After a promising start to the season, the New England Revolution have seen their season bottom out.
Now eight points below the playoff line with just three games remaining in 2018, the Revolution are focused solely on themselves and their performance this Saturday against Orlando City SC (7:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info)
“It’s tough, especially in the situation we’re in. Miracles need to happen," Diego Fagundez said after training this week. "For us, I think we just need to focus on ourselves. We have a home game, so we just have to go out there and make sure that we’re performing."
First-year head coach Brad Friedel has assured fans the team won't stop fighting for points, no matter what.
“We put ourselves in a big hole," Friedel said. "You never stop fighting while there are still points on the board to play for, and the only way to keep ourselves in it is by beating Orlando and hopefully we can get that three points and it puts a little bit of pressure on the other teams."
Last week, Friedel pointed to a stoppage-time loss to LA Galaxy as one reason for their predicament. Another way they dug themselves into a hole is a leaky defense that has given up 54 goals this season, bottom third in the conference. Friedel was able to go a step further, looking to a specific position along the defensive unit.
“I think the main position across the backline that’s been a little bit of a worry for us in the season has been at left back," Friedel said. "It’s plain to see by the shuffling of the lineup. We’ve tried many players there. I think Kelyn [Rowe] provides a lot of opportunities with the ball, but we all know it’s not his natural position. I’ve said it when I first took the job – that’s not the natural position we’d have wanted him to play in. But Kelyn [Rowe], no matter what position we ask him to play, puts in an honest effort and a really good shift. Along the backline in other positions, no problem."
Outside of Jalil Anibaba and Andrew Farrell, there have been no other constants in defense. Furthermore, Anibaba has shifted positions often, while the goalkeeping situation has changed in recent weeks. After Matt Turner started the club's first 26 games in net, Brad Knighton has handled the last five. All of the change has made it tough on defenders.
“It’s tough when guys are in and out of the backline, but obviously it’s our job to shore it up as much as possible," Brandon Bye said. "We go throughout every game and every team has good attackers. We try to neutralize those guys and go from there.”