by Zach Rhein, Sports Reporter
photo courtesy of Fansided
It is the 90th minute of a game between the Chicago Fire FC and the New England Revolution, who are tied 2-2. A win is essential for the Revolution to secure a playoff spot, and the game is in the hands of star midfielder, arguably the best player in Major League Soccer, (MLS) Carlos Gil. He makes his move on the right wing and strikes an absolute dart past Chicago keeper Gabriel Slonina to win it for the Revolution.
The Sept. 22 win was an incredible moment in a stellar season for the Revolution, who clinched a playoff berth for the 15th time in their 25-year history. However, the Revolution has yet to win the MLS Cup, the culmination of the MLS Cup Playoffs, despite being in the league longer than most of the other teams. They’ve had an extremely strong presence in the MLS, yet still are overlooked and underappreciated in the American sports world.
A large reason for the Revolution’s success is its star players. With four all-star selections this year, the Revolution finished the regular season with an outstanding record of 22 wins, seven ties and five losses. Leading the pack as captain is Gil, who achieved league bests in overall points, assists, chances created and games played, in addition to several other categories.
Other stand-out players include fellow midfielder Tajon Buchanan, a star of the Canadian national team and one of two “Commissioner’s Picks” for the All Star game, selected in part by Commissioner Don Garbe. Forward Gustavo Bou completed the season with the second most regular season goals, earning him second place in the running for the Golden Boot award. Finally, goalkeeper Matt Turner won the MLS Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year this year, following his second place finish as Goalkeeper of the Year last year.
The Revolution’s recent success can also be attributed to phenomenal manager Bruce Arena. Since his arrival, the Revolution has improved rapidly, going from missing the playoffs for three years straight to making the playoffs every year.
Arena’s experience in the soccer industry and knack for transforming what others may see as lost causes have paid off; this year, he has brought something special to this team.
“I love the sport. I love the challenge in building the game in this country. It’s something that I’ve done for 40 years and it’s not easy to walk away from,” he said to Yahoo in a 2019 article about his success as a soccer coach in America.
But why hasn’t the Revolution’s sudden burst of success propelled them to the spotlight in the sporting world? According to Statista.com, for the 2020-21 season, the average MLS game got about 285,000 viewers, about an 11% increase from last year. Now, compare this to other well-known sports leagues like the NBA or the NFL: the NBA averages about two million per game, while the NFL averages a staggering 16 million per game.
To put this into perspective, the MLS Cup, the most watched game of the season, only racked up about 1 million viewers last year. Even in New England, the Revolution was barely mentioned in local newspapers or even in general conversation, as hardly anyone was aware of this impressive year, much less their preparation for the playoff season.
The Revolution on Nov. 29 were knocked out of the semifinal round of the playoffs by NYCFC in penalties, ending their 2021 season. However, this doesn’t mean that we should stop supporting them.
In Boston, a city with such a reputation for sports pride, we must make room for the Revolution in our hearts. The MLS is quickly gaining popularity, and with the success of this up-and-coming team, turn on your TV and become a supporter.