The New England Revolution lost to New York City FC 2-1 at Yankee Stadium Saturday. An early red card to Antonio Delamea put the Revs on the back foot, as Jesús Medina scored twice for NYCFC in the second half.
Here are three takeaways from New England’s perspective:
Suddenly, that playoff picture is looking dire
The Revolution’s loss to NYCFC was only their second in 17 games, but the Eastern Conference table is such that even long runs of positive form — like the one the Revs have recently experienced — might not be enough to reach the MLS Cup playoffs.
FiveThirtyEight had New England’s playoff chances as high as 68 percent earlier this month; now, they’re at 55 percent. Toronto FC hopped into sixth place with a win over FC Cincinnati Saturday night, so the Revolution are now in the conference’s seventh and final playoff spot and just one point ahead of the Montreal Impact and four points ahead of Orlando City SC.
New England visits Orlando, where they have never won, this Saturday. Though the Revs have a game in hand on both Orlando and Montreal, a loss, or even a tie, could be devastating to their hopes of snapping a three-year postseason drought.
Without question, the Revs have turned around under sporting director-head coach Bruce Arena, who inherited a basement-dwelling team when he took over May 9. But the revitalized Revolution aren’t immune from disappointment, either.
While New England has lost just twice since the eve of Arena’s hiring, the Revs have also won only once in their past six matches.
Matt Turner was precise, both on and off the field
The seventh-minute red card to Antonio Delamea was the topic of conversation in the Revolution locker room after the game.
Delamea pleaded his innocence. Arena criticized the use of VAR. And cliques of players sat at their lockers asking rhetorical questions like, “How was that a red?”
Arena, Delamea, Juan Fernando Caicedo, and Matt Turner all spoke to media after the game. Turner downplayed Delamea’s ejection as a game-changer.
The goalkeeper had a shutout going for 70 minutes and made nine saves, which tied his personal record for most in a single game. He also conceded New York’s game-winning goal, a penalty kick by Jesús Medina, which was awarded in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time after referee Silviu Petrescu checked VAR.
“Decisions are made on the field and you have to be able to perform regardless,” Turner said. “The referee can be a variable and you just have to go out there and do your job — and we did that for a majority of the game. We were up 1-0, and we looked pretty compact, we looked pretty organized. And, you know, just two plays and they were clinical.”
What to do with Delamea’s suspension
Looking ahead to this weekend, Orlando City (9-13-8, 37 points), which has had an up-and-down season, is tough test for the Revolution despite its four-game winless run.
The Lions have everything to play for and would draw closer to playoff position with a win. New England will also be understaffed in Orlando.
Wilfried Zahibo and Juan Agudelo are out due to yellow-card accumulation, while Edgar Castillo (rib) and Teal Bunbury (hamstring) could miss the game with their respective injuries. For now, Delamea is suspended as well, though that could change depending on a potential appeal of his red card, which might not have been as clear-cut as Petrescu thought.
There’s some risk to an appeal, though. If they were denied, the Revs would lose one of two appeals allotted for the season and part of a $25,000 bond that they, like all MLS teams, were required to post to Major League Soccer prior to the start of the year. There’s also a chance that the disciplinary doubles-down on Delamea, who said after the game he’ll probably get fined, and the Revolution, since replay clearly shows Delamea, Andrew Farrell, Carles Gil, and Fernando Caicedo approaching Petrescu in what could be viewed as mass confrontation, which is a punishable offense.
A Revolution spokesperson declined to comment Sunday on whether the club will appeal Delamea’s suspension. If they do, his case will be decided by a three-person, independent disciplinary team composed of one member from U.S. Soccer, the Canada Soccer Association and the Professional Referees’ Organization.
Should Delamea miss the game, Farrell will likely pair at the back with either Jalil Anibaba or Michael Mancienne. Scott Caldwell could earn his first appearance in midfield since Aug. 17 in place of Zahibo, while Fernando Caicedo, who scored the opener against NYCFC, is a viable option up top.