One of the best things about sports happens towards the end of the season when clubs are watching other games that are not their own and rooting for a team they may have just played in the previous weeks.
The New England Revolution were in this position today knowing that their road to the playoffs would be easier and much less complicated if Toronto FC were to somehow get a result in their derby match with Montreal Impact on Saturday — and that is exactly what happened. When Toronto won their match today — that meant that if New England wins and somehow Houston Dynamo were to overtake them via the tiebreaker, the Revolution would still make the postseason.
New England got some wonderful news this week as star 18-year-old midfielder Diego Fagundez secured his green card and expressed a desire to seek United States citizenship. This is great news because any green card holders seeking to obtain American citizenship must wait either three or five years after receiving their green card before applying. Ultimately, this could mean that Faguendez could stay with New England for the foreseeable future, which would be a huge boost to the already fairly young Revolution squad.
One of New England’s biggest strengths all season has been their defense; in 23 of their 33 matches this season, they have given up one goal or fewer including 13 shutouts. Skipper Jay Heaps has gotten New England to buy into his stout defensive system led by Jose Goncalves, who has played every minute this season. When New England is on — scoring on them can be very difficult, which could make them extremely dangerous in a tight playoff series.
The Columbus Crew find themselves in a very unique position. Last week, they lost to New England at Gillette Stadium to end their postseason dreams, this week Columbus could be the ones to knock out New England.
Columbus is another one of those teams who lives and dies by their defense. In 12 wins this season, Columbus has only conceded four goals. At times this season they have had trouble closing out games as well, giving up three stoppage time game-winners to lose out on three critical points. Points that would put them right back in the playoff hunt.
For Columbus to be successful in this final game of the season they need to make sure to feed Dominic Oduro in space. The 28-year-old Ghanaian leads Columbus with 13 goals and has pace that will stretch even the tightest of defenses. In the coming seasons, Columbus needs to find a strong target forward to take some of the pressure off Oduro, someone who can occupy the central defense while allowing Oduro to roam in the open space.
Columbus Crew will host the New England Revolution on Sunday Oct. 27 at 4 p.m. ET. This match is not available on TV but can be seen on MLS Live.
Prediction: Columbus Crew 2, New England Revolution 2
New England has a knack for scoring late goals scoring 16 in the final 15 minutes of matches this season. On the other hand, Columbus has conceded 14 goals in that same time span. If New England knows they need a goal late to make the postseason; odds are they will get it but Columbus will not roll over for anybody especially at home.