Columbus Crew Versus New England Revolution: Playoffs, Eighth Edition
The Revolution head into a game that is a meeting of familiar teams in familiar situations. This New England and Columbus match-up make eight matches in the playoffs against each other. This is also the second time they meet in the Eastern Conference Final. The Crew has made it to the ECF seven times now. The Revolution have the upper hand in that matter, with this meeting making their eighth.
The matches between these two teams have always been testy. In all games, the Columbus Crew are winners of the head-to-head. In 81 games total, the Crew has come out on top in 34. The Revolution have won 26 of those matches and the two teams ended deadlocked in 21. The Revs didn't get to play Columbus at all this year. Their last match was in April 2019.
In the playoffs is where New England shows their prowess against the Crew. The Crew, while having won an MLS Cup in 2008, haven't won in a meeting in the postseason. The year the Crew won the MLS Cup, they were denied meeting the Revs, who knows what would have happened then. The Revolution have won four matches and tied three on their way to three more chances to win MLS Cup than the Crew.
Revolution Aren't The Underdogs, They're The Underrated
Heading into this match on Sunday, the Revolution is on a hot streak of getting their playoff games settled early on. The Revs have outscored their postseason opponents putting seven past keepers. Matt Turner between the posts has only allowed two goals past him during the playoffs. Matt has made 10 saves on 12 shots on target. The defense in front of him has created a helpful wall of great tackles during the postseason.
The changes for the man in charge, Bruce Arena, have found the most success. Arena had walked over to Tajon Buchanan during training leading up to the playoffs and told him he'd play right-back going forward. Buchanan had previously trained in the position during the year he said in an interview with Jason Davis on Sirius XM FC this past week. Tajon shut down the Portuguese star player Nani for Orlando multiple times in the last game.
The Revs had been without Carles Gil for most of the season heading into the last two games. Since rejoining the team, he has created space on the field for the other designated players. Carles has also added the necessary firepower to complete a full functioning, revolving door of attack. Between Gil and Tajon Buchanan's resurgence, the defenders have something to fear whether through the middle or the wings.
Eastern Conference Final Analysis
The Crew have found a great attack through Gyasi Zardes, Pedro Santos, and Lucas Zelaryán. Between those three players, they have scored more than their opponents, totaling 24 goals. This attack has found the key to unlocking defenses, together, while being a part of the scoring of 30 goals this year.
Their home form has been fantastic, winning 10 matches in Mapfre Stadium, only losing out to Montreal, a team out of sorts this regular season. Their goalkeeper for most of those matches was Goalkeeper of the Year nominee Eloy Room. Room helped win seven of those 10 while shutting out opponents in four of them. If Room isn't good to go for this match, the Crew will need to resort to Andrew Tarbell, with not such a pristine home record. Tarbell however did help the Crew to achieve the Eastern Conference Final, shutting out Nashville last game.
Columbus has kept a great pass completion rate throughout the season. They have completed four out of every five passes this year on average. For such a strong attacking team, this ability to create great passes is a dagger in less defensive teams. The Revolution however have kept their own, only allowing one more goal than the Crew did this year. Looking at those stats, they will need to function similarly to the Nashville game, just bearing down on the defense until they crack to achieve goals.
The defensive side of the game for the Crew has been amazing, only allowing 21 goals for the season. Earning clean sheets in six of their matches this year is no easy feat either.
New England Revolution
The Revs away form is decent this year, winning five games, drawing three, and losing four. They will need to continue their recent form into this game against a stellar home record for the Crew. They have won their past two playoff games away from home and even one game with home fans.
The Revolution's designated players created strong chances this year, involving themselves in seven goals this year. They haven't all been healthy this year, so the supporting cast of the team has supplied 21 goal creating situations. This is spread among the midfield, defense, and attack. They haven't relied on one person to create for everyone this year, which bodes well, when their main attackers get shut down others step up.
Matt Turner and his defense have done great things in the playoffs as it stands. Turner will need to command the D into another great performance against a great attacking squad. Turner's save percentage during the playoffs sits at 83 percent, a promising start that he should be able to keep up.
Eastern Conference Final Prediction
The Revolution is very hot in getting the job done in regular time in the playoffs thus far. If they're able to go out and score first against the Crew, like I think they will, they will dominate this game too. I envision a 3-1 win for the Revs, with Buksa, Buchanan, and Gil scoring. New England will score two unanswered until late in the game with tired legs. The Crew will bring one back through Zardes. Gil will clinch the game with a beauteous curler to shove the dagger deep.
Where to Watch
The Revolution vs Crew game will be on ABC on Sunday at 3:00 PM. Be sure to tune in!