New England Revolution's season-ending win strikes bittersweet tone
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It would've taken an unprecedented effort for the New England Revolution to sneak into the playoffs during Sunday's season finale against the Montreal Impact. But the impossible odds didn't deter them in the slightest.
Needing to close a 12-tally gap in order to claim the tiebreaker on goal differential over Philadelphia for the sixth and final playoff berth, the Revolution played freely and fearlessly en route to a 3-0 win in front of a season-high crowd of 39,587 at Gillette Stadium.
"I think everybody just came out a little bit looser," Revolution right back Andrew Farrell said, "because the situation was that we probably weren't going to be in [the playoffs] unless we scored a lot of goals and we got some help from New York."
Suffice to say it wasn't for lack of effort that the Revolution, who were put behind the proverbial eight ball as a result of last week's loss in Chicago, ultimately fell seven goals short of the 12 needed to play again Wednesday.
Displaying the attacking spirit that allowed them to win five of their last seven down the stretch, the Revs punctured holes in Montreal's backline early and often. Pay dirt soon followed, as Diego Fagundez ripped a brilliant free kick from the edge of the area to put the hosts in command.
"I think everybody just wanted it more today," Fagundez said. "That's not to say we didn't want it [against] Chicago. We just couldn't break them down. It was hard. In this game, everybody was passing and moving, and we definitely broke them down. We scored first, and it opened up a lot more."
To say the match opened up after Fagundez's sixth goal of the season might be underselling it somewhat. Although the scoreline was certainly an indication of the Revolution's dominance, the margin could've been even wider, had it not been for the posts parked behind Montreal keeper Evan Bush.
Kei Kamara nearly made it a two-goal gap before the midway point of the first half when he hit a point-blank shot off the bottom of the post that ricocheted right in front of the line before the threat dissipated.
Kamara hit the woodwork again in the 36th minute on a close-range shot that, this time, smacked the right post. Before the final whistle screeched, Fagundez and Scott Caldwell took turns hitting the frame.
"It was pretty crazy how many goals we could've gotten this season if we didn't hit the woodwork," Revolution striker Juan Agudelo said in reference to the league-high 23 times Revolution shots hit the opponents' frame. "Hopefully, next year, they make the posts a little thinner so they go in instead of out."
Although the striker's suggestion was said with a mischievous smile, his teammates were nothing but business in all three segments of the field.
Agudelo authored a scintillating goal in the 60th minute by exploiting a gap in the Montreal defense before depositing a 20-yard drive that, fortunately for the Revolution, found its way between the posts. Revolution debutant Cody Cropper, who was acquired in August, made a pair of critical second-half saves to keep the Impact from climbing back.
With time winding down on the team's season and the task of closing the goal-differential gap becoming more insurmountable with each passing minute, Kamara finally shook his personal hijinks to score in the 71st minute.
Shortly after Sunday's Revolution-Impact clash came to a close, sixth-place Philadelphia suffered a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Talen Energy Park. Nevertheless, they held on to the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, thanks to the goal differential.
Not surprisingly, there was a bittersweet feel to the Revolution's 11th win of the season. It was one that left many players wondering "what if?" in light of their strong performance.
"If we played like [we played today] throughout the season, we could've been in the playoffs and could've played [well] against anybody," Farrell said. "When we show up, we can be one of the best teams in the league, but too many times, we didn't do that."