1. Juan Agudelo's importance can't be overstated- Though Jay Heaps backed the performance of Dimitry Imbongo during his post-match press conference last night, the Revolution's offense was virtually nonexistant until Juan Agudelo came on circa the 60th minute. Imbongo was caught offside often and did not hold the ball the way Agudelo did when he came on. It's no coincidence that the Revolution scored four minutes within Agudelo taking the field. Lee Nguyen found space on the edge of the penalty area for Saer Sene, who finished beautifully. There's no way Sene has the time and space to score his goal if Agudelo doesn't preoccupy most of Houston's back line. The Revolution should savor what remains of the Agudelo era. And they should take notes. His replacement should be young and adept at holding the ball.
2. Houston's goal last night was indicative of their character- Houston are a comeback team. So the fact that Will Bruin equalized 12 minutes after Saer Sene gave the Revolution the lead isn't surprising. It's frustrating, maybe. But it's not surprising. Was there a conversation after Sene's goal to guard against Houston's pressure? Would at least one more goal from New England have kept Houston out? These are key questions. Playoff teams find ways to win against any oppostion. Last night, the Revolution let their victory slip away. What's worse, this result, which could have ended the Revolution's playoff hopes, comes against the same team that beat them via come-from-behind wins in two MLS Cup finals.
3. Playoff Implications- Chicago drawing Montreal helped the Revolution. Philadelphia beating Kansas City did not. A win against Houston would have made the difference. One of the league's talking points in recent weeks has been whether or not the Revolution are a playoff team. Sometimes they are, other times they aren't. The team that wins in Houston, beats Los Angeles 5-0, and comes back to beat DC United, is a playoff team. The team that ties DC United, loses to Toronto at home, ties Chivas USA, and lets a home lead against Real Salt Lake slip, is not. The Revolution have left points on the table all season. It stands to reason if they won when they were supposed to, they wouldn't be sitting one point out of the playoffs with Chicago and Columbus breathing down their necks. Reaching the post-season isn't impossible, but it's certainly a tough ask with three of their next four games on the road. The next two are at New York and Montreal, who have close to sterling home records.
Magic Numbers: The Revolution are at 41 points. If I may, I think 46 will get them into the playoffs. My prognosis: (tie at Montreal, lose at New York, win at home versus Columbus, tie at Columbus). Granted, those predictions rely heavily on what Houston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Columbus do in the final month of the season.
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