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New England Revolution’s margin for error is slim

The Revs added another point by tying the Red Bulls as the playoff race continues to heat up.

New England Revolution midfielder Brandon Bye (15) and New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence (92) battle for the ball during the second half at Red Bull Arena.
Aug 17, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New England Revolution midfielder Brandon Bye (15) and New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence (92) battle for the ball during the second half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

The New England Revolution tied the New York Red Bulls 1-1 Saturday night. The result helped keep the Revolution in playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

Here are three takeaways from New England’s perspective:

Playoff picture still hazy

New England is doing just enough to stay in playoff position, but performances like the one it delivered at New York probably aren’t sustainable if the team wants to keep its postseason hopes alive.

With just over two months left to go in the regular season this may have been two points lost, even though the Revs came from behind on the road.

Tying the Red Bulls almost wasn’t enough to keep the Revolution seventh in the Eastern Conference. Had FC Dallas not produced a miracle, three-goal comeback against the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC not tied Columbus Crew SC, New England would currently be below the playoff line and playing catch-up.

Even with that hurdle avoided, the playoff picture is far from clear: As of Aug. 19, FiveThirtyEight says New England’s chances of reaching the postseason are an even 50 percent.

Helping New England’s case is its recent run of form, which includes only one loss in the team’s past 14 regular-season games, and that the club has one game in hand on Montreal and Orlando City SC.

But with six of their final eight regular-season games coming against Eastern Conference teams – and only four home matches remaining – the margin for error, as FiveThirtyEight’s prognostications seem to show, is slim.

Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou make the difference

Frustrations of not winning aside, could the Revolution have pulled out a positive result at Red Bull Arena, where they still have never won a regular-season game, without their two marquee players?

Doubtful — at least, that’s what the statistics show.

On a night when the Revs looked second best for most of the 90 minutes and were out-shot 22-6, no one other than Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou produced much in the attacking third.

Bou scored the equalizer and took four of New England’s six shots, while Gil — who assisted on the goal — had the best passing accuracy of any midfielder or attacking player and led the team in key passes, which are defined as passes that lead directly to shots.

While New England improved after halftime and scored in the second half, the goal was still against the run of play. The pivotal moment involved a fast transition: Gil took possession in midfield, then sent a through ball to Bou that fooled everyone in the Red Bulls back line.

Bou then went in alone on the keeper and easily tucked away his fourth goal of the season. It was enough for one point on the road.

In short, the team’s two designated players linked up and made the most of their best chance.

Matt Turner can seize his opportunity

New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner (30) makes save against New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer (77) during the first half at Red Bull Arena.

Aug 17, 2019; Harrison, NJ, USA; New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner (30) makes save against New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer (77) during the first half at Red Bull Arena. (Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

New England loaned backup goalkeeper Cody Cropper to Hartford Athletic in the USL Championship hours before kicking off against New York, which should be yet another sign that Matt Turner is the team’s starter in net for the foreseeable future.

Did Turner need that assurance?

Probably not — especially when he’s making numerous saves to keep the Revolution in games and doing his part to protect results. On Saturday night, Turner made nine saves, which is his personal best.

Some of those saves were routine stops, but others were cat-like parries with nothing but him and his reflexes guarding the goal. His performance was reminiscent of his play last season when he started earning regular playing time and began to draw attention around the league.

But Turner is still flying somewhat under the radar. Because he’s played in only 13 of New England’s 26 games this season, some his stats, on the surface, are difficult to compare to those of other goalkeepers across the league.

For instance, Turner has made 50 saves this year, which is 20th on the list. That seems low for someone with a save percentage of 73.3, currently the fourth highest in the league.

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