Jun 9, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Atlanta United defender Jeff Larentowicz (18) heads the ball while defended by New York City forward Jesus Medina (19) during the second half at Yankee Stadium. The game ended in a 1-1 tie. Mandatory Credit: Chris Bergmann-USA TODAY Sports
The New England Revolution picked up a vital point last Saturday in a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. The result keeps the Revolution tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference and five points ahead of their longtime rivals, the Fire.
Here are three takeaways from the performance:
Teal Bunbury has outside shot of being league MVP
It doesn’t seem like Teal Bunbury is going to slow down any time soon. The Revolution striker has been the spearhead of the team’s attack, now with nine goals through 15 games this season.
Bunbury is having a career year after being on the fringes for most of the last two seasons in Foxborough. Should Bunbury score north of 15 goals – his current rate of scoring suggests he will – and the Revs make the playoffs, he will undoubtedbly be considered for Major League Soccer’s season MVP award.
At minimum, Bunbury looks like he’s a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year. And who knows, at the ripe age of 28, Bunbury may find himself in the conversation to get another look from the U.S. national team.
For now, though, Bunbury’s in inspiring form and is one of the main reasons New England is in a playoff position.
Chicago’s goal came against the run of play
The Revolution outshot Chicago 18-11 and had plenty of chances to take three points from an important road game, but couldn’t come up with a second goal.
That said, Bunbury’s goal should have been enough to seal the game.
A mental lapse by the Revs in transition gifted Chicago with the game’s opening goal as Bastian Schweinsteiger sliced through the heart of New England’s back line with a well-timed give-and-go in tandem with Aleksandar Katai.
The breakdown was particularly disappointing given the Revs have spent time looking to improve their play in transitions in recent weeks. For a team that presses high like the Revolution, staying alert and composed in transitions is a must.
New England worked to score a go-ahead goal in the match’s late stages with some inspiring playmaking, but couldn’t convert.
A huge road point
Saturday’s contest was arguably the Revolution’s most important game of the first half of the season. Winning would have had huge implications for the playoff chase, but a tie will do just fine given how other results broke out across MLS.
New England has had a very home-heavy schedule through the first half of the season, but that will change in the coming months.
Sooner or later, the Revs will have to start earning three points on the road. But for now, the Revolution look like they could be a playoff team.
How the rest of the Eastern Conference shakes out remains to be seen. Columbus Crew SC, Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. New York City FC will have to transition now that they’re about to go through a coaching change, and the likes of Orlando City, Toronto, Chicago and Philadelphia have been horribly inconsistent.
The Revolution have a chance to take advantage of a conference with few clear playoff-caliber teams.