FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Gillette Stadium, once a virtually an impenetrable fortress for the New England Revolution, has displayed vulnerability during the last two seasons.
The Revolution are 9-6-5 (1.6 points per game) in their past 20 home games. Contrast that with the 2014-17 campaigns, when New England were a more commanding 41-12-15 (2.03 ppg) at home.
If the Revolution are going to make a return to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs after missing out the last three seasons, winning their home matches is paramount. Their next three matches are at Gillette, starting Saturday with Atlanta United (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; DAZN in Canada), presenting a prime opportunity for them to re-assert themselves as Eastern Conference contenders.
“You just want to win every game, period,” forward Teal Bunbury said. “You don't want to lose or to tie, you want to win, and especially at home in front of our fans, who have kind of a rough start to the season.”
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With four points from the first six matches, the 10th-place Revolution are four points adrift of FC Cincinnati, Orlando City SC and the Montreal Impact, the clubs that occupy the three spots above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. FiveThirtyEight currently pegs New England’s chances of making the playoffs this season at 30 percent.
Bunbury said that he understands supporters are frustrated about missing the playoffs the past three seasons. He then spoke plainly about what the Revolution want to achieve the next three matches: win them all.
“Some might say getting nine out of nine points is too far-fetched but in our minds as players, that's what our goal is going to be,” Bunbury said.
Head coach Brad Friedel was more circumspect when it comes to looking beyond Atlanta.
“The most important is the game in front of us, which is Atlanta,” he said. “I would not say things take care of themselves. If you get nine of nine [points], you still have a lot games to play.”
Even if the objective is to embark on a winning streak, the reality is that only a maximum of three points is on offer on Saturday.
“You can’t look at it in big chunks, you have to look at it game by game,” midfielder Scott Caldwell said.