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New England Revolution playoff hopes are slipping fast

new england revolution midfielder scott caldwell sent off
Aug 19, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; Referee Ted Unkel displays a red card to New England Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell (6) in the second half against D.C. United at Audi Field. D.C. United won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Revolution’s winless run hit seven games on Sunday night in a 2-0 loss to D.C. United. New England’s loss against its longtime Eastern Conference rival further dampened playoff hopes.

Here are three takeaways from New England’s performance:

The Revolution play well in spurts, but fall asleep at key moments

New England put forth more of the same on Saturday night, with sloppy play in small moments deciding the outcome of the game.

Shoddy marking on both of D.C. United’s goals killed any chance the Revolution had of taking points from the game, even though they managed to create chances.

What’s killer is that there wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about D.C.’s two goals. The scorers, Luciano Acosta and Zoltan Stieber, both had clean finishes. But the build-up wasn’t anything special.

Had the Revolution’s defenders been in the right positions – or more alert – both strikes would have likely been avoided.

However, the play that iced the game is widely agreed to have been Scott Caldwell getting sent off. Caldwell has slipped into the periphery this summer due to the emergence of Luis Caicedo in central midfield. Revolution coach Brad Friedel opted to pair Caldwell with Caicedo on Saturday, but the move backfired.

Caldwell sent off with his second yellow on a late challenge. The hit was totally needless and sank the Revs chances of coming back when the score was still 1-0.

Teal Bunbury has slowed his scoring pace – and it’s hurt the Revs

The primary culprit behind the Revolution’s current woes is the team’s back line.

New England has conceded at least two goals in seven of its last eight league matches. The one game the club didn’t concede two goals it tied, 0-0.

That said, statistics show that one key contributor needs to step it up as well.

Revolution striker Teal Bunbury, currently the team’s leading scorer this season with 11 goals, has found the back of the net just once in the last seven games.

Remarkably, the Revolution are unbeaten this season when Bunbury scores. Their record with Bunbury on the score sheet is 6-0-5; four of the six wins were decided by one goal.

New England is currently winless in seven games. Bunbury has one goal in that stretch (coming in a 3-3 draw at Orlando City).

Playoff hopes have all but evaporated

The Revolution looked like a playoff team through the beginning of July, then things started coming apart.

It is unclear why the team’s form – particularly at the game – has devolved so quickly. But make no mistake: The Revs are in freefall while some of their rivals are surging.

Nothing is illustrating this better than the current surges of both D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union. After spending most of the season in the Eastern Conference’s basement, United have rebounded spectacularly, largely thanks to the arrival of Wayne Rooney and the opening of their new stadium, Audi Field.

United is now just two points behind the Revolution.

The Union, meanwhile, kicked New England out of the sixth and final playoff spot earlier this month. Philadelphia is now four points ahead of the Revolution. The two teams play again on Saturday in Chester, Pa.

Philadelphia are the clear favorites for that game.

The Revolution’s playoff hopes will be at death’s door if they fail to beat Philadelphia this coming weekend.

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