The New England Revolution are still among the top six in the Eastern Conference in spite of a summer swoon. But by the time Sunday rolls around, there could be a shakeup among playoff hopefuls.
New England looks to snap a five-game winless streak Saturday night when it faces the Philadelphia Union in Foxborough, Mass., in what some Revolution players say is as important as a postseason matchup.
"I think it's probably the biggest game of the year so far," Revolution forward Juan Agudelo said. "Especially because it's a home game and teams need to win at home in the MLS, so we've got to come up with three points."
New England's recent struggles continued with a 3-3 draw against Orlando City last Saturday in which the club surrendered the tying goal in second-half stoppage time.
That heartbreaking result dropped the Revs to 0-3-2 in their last five games and also placed first-year coach Brad Friedel's team in a precarious position. New England (7-7-8) is tied with the Montreal Impact for fifth in the East with 29 points and with two matches in hand.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia (8-11-3) is just two points out of the final playoff spot heading into the weekend.
"We could've really distanced ourselves in the standings, but we didn't," New England goalkeeper Matt Turner said. "Now we go into this Saturday and look at it like a first-round playoff game. It's huge."
The Union topped a nine-man Revs squad 2-0 on March 3 behind a goal and assist from CJ Sapong. Philadelphia has won four of the last five meetings with New England -- all via shutout.
This will be the Union's third match in a week after the club advanced to the U.S. Open Cup final for the third time in five years with a 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night as Cory Burke scored twice in the second half.
"I think that it needs to be said that the players stuck together in a hard moment, rolled up their sleeves I thought in the second half, on a very hot night found energy," Union coach Jim Curtin told the league's official website. "Obviously, we have a quick turnaround now, so we'll celebrate."
In MLS play, Curtin's side has alternated wins and losses in the last five outings, including a 3-0 setback to the surging Portland Timbers last Saturday.
The road hasn't been very welcoming recently for Philadelphia. The club has surrendered at least three goals in four of its last five away from home.
The Union feature balanced scoring. Borek Dockal and Burke are tied for the team lead with five goals, followed by Fafa Picault and Ilsinho with four each.
Teal Bunbury ended a four-game goal drought for the Revs last week with his 11th of the year.
New England and Philadelphia will meet for the final time in the regular season on Aug. 25 in Chester, Pa.