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USA Today Sports

New England Revolution confident they'll reach playoffs in 2019

FOXBOROUGH, Mass – After a season-opening draw on the road, the New England Revolution are gearing up for their home opener on Saturday against Columbus Crew SC, aiming to start stronger and hold more of the ball.

In Saturday's 1-1 draw at FC Dallas, the Revolution gained the point without controlling possession. Now? They want to keep building a team ethic and improving their play to get results.

“We're just going to keep focused on every game that comes our way,” coach Brad Friedel said. “Hopefully we keep that team spirit going throughout the entire season.”

Last season, New England earned 29 of 41 points at home, when they finished nine points adrift of a spot in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. This season, the playoff field expands to seven teams in each conference as the Revolution look to secure their first postseason berth since 2015.

Midfielder Scott Caldwell, who wore the captain’s armband for the season opener after defender Michael Mancienne sustained a pregame back injury, added, “We know we're capable of making the playoffs, we just have to put the games together, and we definitely have confidence in that this year.”

Caldwell said the team needs to do a better job in possession as New England only had 32 percent against Dallas. The Revolution improved as the match progressed but Caldwell said they allowed too much space to play the ball at times.

“We were getting a little too spread out in the first half,” Caldwell said.

The Revolution improved in the second half and eventually got a 57th-minute equalizer from Designated Player acquisition Carles Gil in his MLS debut.

Another promising sign is that Mancienne is off the injury report altogether as of Thursday, so he is likely to be on the field at Gillette Stadium against Columbus.

Caldwell said the Revolution “want to start out strong” and contain the Crew, who opened the season at home with a 1-1 draw of their own, against the New York Red Bulls.

“The transition game is huge for both teams,” Caldwell said. “They really like to transition quickly and that's something that we will have to counteract.”

Friedel said the possession numbers against FC Dallas look more concerning in isolation.

“I looked at the numbers, and we had more touches in their half of the field than they had in ours even though we had far less of the possession,” Friedel said. “I’m not a guy that pays a lot of attention to just possession figure alone. I do take notice where that possession is. … If we have 90 percent of our possession in our half of the field, I probably wouldn't be too happy.”


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