The Revolution haven't been to the post-season since 2009. Clinching a berth into this year's playoffs with a 1-0 win over Columbus last Saturday brought about the end of a very long, frustrating road for both the Revolution and their fans.
Seasons 2010, 2011, and 2012 were all characterized by a team that was mostly in over its head. The players in the starting 11 often played like strangers. Questionable transactions became a norm. The team struggled to cope without stars like Taylor Twellman, Steve Ralston, and Shalrie Joseph.
That drought is now over. But it's worth looking back at some history. So, here's my list of the top five Revolution playoff games of all-time.
5. Revolution secure first Cup Final appearance with 2-2 draw with Columbus
Back in 2002, three games were sometimes needed to decide the victor in a playoff series. This was due to the point system used by the league at the time. The Revolution took a 2-0 lead over the Columbus Crew in game three of the Conference Finals at Gillette Stadium thanks to goals from Steve Ralston and Wolde Harris. But the Revolution had to hang on for dear life in the late stages of the game, as goals from Columbus' Brian McBride and Dante Washington, in the 80th and 85th minutes, respectively, produced one of the best late rallies in MLS playoff history. After Washington's goal, Adrian Healey, who was the play-by-play announcer for the Revolution at the time, said: "It ain't over, til it's over." Healey did not end up eating his words, as the Revolution moved onto their first MLS Cup final in team history.
4. Matt Reis saves in 2004
Matt Reis earned his keep in Revolution lore fairly early in his New England career. He took over as starting goalkeeper for Adin Brown in 2004 after being signed from Los Angeles the year before. He was instrumental in game two of the 2004 MLS Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Columbus Crew when he stopped two penalty kicks in regulation time. Ross Paule took the first spot kick early in the game and Reis dove to his left to prevent the shot from going into the back of the net. Late in the second half, Reis dove right to save Tony Sanneh's penalty kick. Taylor Twellman sealed the deal for the Revolution in second half stoppage time when he finished off a play started by Andy Dorman. Revolution 2, Columbus 1. The Revolution were through to the Conference Final.
3. Come from behind against Chicago in 2006
"They didn't jump!" Famous words from Eric Wynalda when the Revolution allowed a freekick goal by Justin Mapp in game one of the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Fire. In game two, the fell behind 2-0 on aggregate due to an early goal by Chicago's Nate Jaqua. Taylor Twellman cut Chicago's lead in half, then Pat Noonan equalized in the second half. The comeback was representative of a team that made a living earning results when they were down but not out in the playoffs. The Revolution took Chicago to extra time, where they defeated the Fire on penalty kicks. Matt Reis, ever the penalty specialist, saved shots from Chicago's Thiago and Ivan Guerrero. He even converted his shot from the spot. Taylor Twellman scored the final shot, rifling the ball past goalkeeper Matt Pickens, to put the Revolution in the Conference Final.
2. Twellman bicycle kick sends Revolution to Cup
The 2007 Eastern Conference Final. To this day, I'm not sure what got talked about more: the fact that the Revolution defeated the Chicago Fire 1-0 at Gillette Stadium to clinch their third straight MLS Cup Final appearance, or the goal that Taylor Twellman scored to do it. Arguably the prettiest playoff goal in league history. Arguably the best bicycle kick in history---well, maybe not the best, but no person in the world would say this goal was bad. Wells Thompson crossed to Twellman, who flicked the ball up to fire a perfect shot into the back of the net past Matt Pickens. Twellman's control on Thompson's cross was sublime. He managed to create time and space for a bicycle kick with two defenders marking him and a goalkeeper that was in a decent enough position to make the save.
1. Snow Battle at Gillette Stadium
It was game two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Gillette Stadium and the Revolution were down 1-0 on aggregate to the New York Metrostars. The plows were out in full force on that 29th of October, 2005. Snow had fallen uncharacteristically early in New England to create one of the most distinct and memorable playoff game atmospheres in league history. Players slipped and slid. Uniforms got muddy. Everyone wore gloves. But the Revolution braved the elements and came out on top despite multiple barriers. The weather, in truth, was the least of the Revolution's concerns. Though the Revolution greatly outplayed the Metrostars, they struggled to score. Referee Brian Hall failed to call a handball in New York's penalty area in the first half. Then, early in the second half, Clint Dempsey fired a shot that clanged off the post. Moments later, New York's Youri Djorkaeff scored on a breakaway to double his team's lead. But the Revolution stormed back to take the series. Goals from Jose Cancela, Pat Noonan, and Khano Smith put the Revolution up 3-2. Nine minutes of extra time were added to the end of the game due to an injury to Smith. The Revolution went down to 10 men because of the injury, but braved the nervy stoppage time period to come out on top. They needed some extra help, however, from Shalrie Joseph, who cleared a header by Djorkaeff off the line late in the game to preserve the Revolution's win.
Have your say: what do you think about these playoff games? Which was your favorite?
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