The Revolution's Sunday night clash against the Philadelphia Union at Gillette Stadium is definitely a six-pointer since the result could make or break New England's playoff hopes.
That statement might be redundant, since both Revolution players and coaches have been treating every game as a must-win since the first week of July.
But a loss, or even a tie, to Philadelphia could actually be catastrophic for the Revolution. Losing would keep the Revolution in seventh place, eight points from the fourth place Union and three from Houston, who occupy the conference's fifth and final playoff spot.
"They're fourth place in our conference right now," said Lee Nguyen. "They're not a team to take easy."
"We have to be tuned on. Every game at home we need to take advantage of. We need to take full points. This game against Philadelphia is huge."
A win would allow the Revolution to leap-frog past sixth place Chicago and fifth place Houston (on goal differential) and narrow their gap with Philadelphia to two points.
Though they're currently ahead of Houston in the standings, Philadelphia's place in the playoff chase seems to be more vulnerable. The Union have a difficult schedule through October since they play Kansas City and Montreal, the conference's top two teams, twice more. They've also only won back-to-back games twice this season.
Houston have played one less game than both the Revolution and Philadelphia. And even though they were routed 5-0 against Montreal on Saturday, they're a team that rebounds quickly and makes up lost points.
Yes, October and the end of the regular season are fast approaching. There are probably bushels of players and team staffers around the league that have studied their schedules and their opponents' schedules and busted out their calculators to gauge where their team stands in the playoff chase.
But once kick-off occurs on Sunday night in Foxborough, the Revolution's focus will have to switch from mathematical to tactical.
Nevertheless, in a game as crucial as this, there is one statistic that should not be forgotten: when the Revolution score first their record is 8-3-1; when they do not, it's 1-6-1.
Defensive discipline will be key for the Revolution against the Union. Conceding the first goal is statistically not an option.
"They've shown they're resilient," added coach Jay Heaps. "They can win on the road. They can win in a bunch of different ways. They're one of those team that no matter what, responds and rebounds. We have a lot of respect for them."
Forward Saer Sene (red card) is unavailable for selection, though Juan Agudelo should make his second consecutive start after coming back from injury. His play since joining the Revolution in May from Chivas USA has been a key factor in their rise up the conference standings, and the team will look to him again on Sunday.
"We need to be strong up top," added Nguyen. "We have to keep them pinned in their area. If we can get a win, two in a row, it will be huge for our confidence."
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