It’s Time For MLS To Get Serious About New England Revolution

Mention the word contraction in American sports circles and many fans will shudder. It was this word that was mentioned in the mid-90s by Major League Baseball in hopes of dissolving teams in markets that made little money. However, MLB never contracted a team; rather, they expanded the league in Tampa Bay and Arizona.

In Major League Soccer, contraction was put into action as the league dissolved two teams in the early part of the century. In 2001, after four seasons of play the league contracted the Miami Fusion and after six years of play the league contracted an MLS original in the Tampa Bay Mutiny.

Terrible names aside, the league was losing money each season and was attempting to shake things up. People weren’t coming out, and it wouldn’t be until the US Men’s National Team’s successful 2002 World Cup that attendances increased around the league.

One of the teams MLS didn’t contract, rather, than two Florida/southeast based clubs was the New England Revolution though they may have had reasons to dissolve them at the time. In their first six years of existence the club was quite poor performance wise, though they boasted the likes of Alexi Lalas, Joe-Max Moore and John Harkes, and never progressed past the first round of the MLS play-offs. This was a time that MLS fluctuated between 10 and 12 teams, a far cry from what the league is today. As a matter of fact, on the surface MLS today resembles very little of what it 11 years ago did.

In 2002, New England slowly turned into one of the better sides in MLS thanks in large parts to former manager Steve Nicol. It was Nicol whom transformed the club into a solid defensive team. Add in the likes of Taylor Twellman, Matt Reis, Andy Dorman, Clint Dempsey and Steve Ralston and the club produced a purple patch of results for several years. Though in the end, they only achieved heartache losing the MLS Cup Final four times; including being runners-up three consecutive seasons.

Since 2007, however, the club has been in a downward spiral. Consistently being the cheapest team in the league hasn’t helped as owner Robert Kraft instead prefers to put his money into his NFL team the New England Patriots. Many believed the Revolution turned the corner last season with the signing of Benny Feilhaber, but with the talent around him Feilhaber looked less like an US international and more like another run of the mill MLS player.

This is a franchise that has relied heavily on the MLS college draft to fill out its roster and find diamonds in the rough. Luckily, the Revolution had Nicol and one time assistant Paul Mariner to help sift through the duds and find some capable quality. Unfortunately for Revolution fans, Mariner left in 2009 and after a spell with Plymouth Argyle in England is now with Toronto FC. Nicol parted company with New England this off-season.

Former Revolution defender Jay Heaps has been given the responsibility of bringing the club back to the forefront of MLS. Many see Heaps’ hiring in a similar fashion to that of Real Salt Lake’s Jason Kreis and DC United’s Ben Olsen. However, unlike Kreis and Olsen who went from playing to managing, Heaps was working for a financial company and doing color commentating on the side following his retirement from the game.

Being overlooked in the criticism of Heaps’ hiring is whether or not he holds a relevant US coaching certificate. That same question could have been asked about Kreis and Olsen when they took over their respective clubs as well. Regardless of certificates it’s whether or not he can produce results on the pitch, and his hiring is most likely the cheapest club being even cheaper.

The New England Revolution is not a club in transition; rather, it is a club attempting to play in MLS as if it was still 1996. This is a club that is being left behind by the rest of the league. While teams such as Kansas City re-established itself with a new stadium, colors and name. The Revolution has stayed true to its origins; and not in a good way.

Perhaps, it’s time for MLS to make a decision on Robert Kraft and company. Get serious about your team, your stadium and change with the rest of the league or face the consequences: Contraction.

54 thoughts on “It’s Time For MLS To Get Serious About New England Revolution”

  1. The is f*cking retarded. Seriously, is there any editor here? The
    Revs have issues but contraction isn’t a reasonable option.

  2. Yes, neither Heaps nor Kreis had the requisite coaching certificate
    when hired. But there’s a big different. Kreis was hired by a
    management setup that was serious about turning the club into a
    first class organization. Heaps was hired by a management setup
    that’s never had any interest in putting the tiniest bit of effort
    into becoming a first class organization. If New England were third
    rate, it’d be a set up.

  3. Contraction? Haha no. That’s one thing I don’t like about the
    franchise model is that the quickest solution for these things is
    relocation or contraction. I know that this was a ultimatum to
    Kraft to renovate revolution but still. What needs to happen is
    that mls pressure Kraft to sell because obviously he’s forgotten
    about revolution for the past 16 years and since left the club in
    the hands of sunil gulati who only finds time to manage the club
    when he’s not teaching economics at whatever university he’s
    teaching and occasionally performing his duties at ussf. Focus more
    on Boston (birthplace of soccer mind you) . Im not in favor of a
    name change however mickey mouse it is, its history. But what I do
    want is a regime change. Lucky for me I’m not a revolution fan but
    the club or franchise whatever its called now adays deserves
    better. You can only rely on Joseph to carry you clubchise for so
    long. See what I did there? Ima start using that

    1. A SSS would be great but if you have the same crap product and crap
      management, it won’t matter. You can only shine a turd so much.

  4. Hey guys, I appreciate all the comments (good or bad). Regarding
    the average salary for 2011, the Rev’s number were bumped up due to
    Benny Feilhaber earning a base of $300,000 for the year and Lekic
    earned $275,000. I believe both salaries bumped up there ave.
    massively. Still didn’t make them any better. Also, I would hate to
    see another MLS contracted, however, the Boston area needs a
    competitive team. Home of US soccer? Maybe. Regardless, MLS needs
    to find ways of getting Kraft and co. serious. Thanks guys.

  5. Ridiculous revisionist history. Miami and Tampa weren’t the only
    stinkers in 2002. The whole league was going into the toilet. San
    Jose, Dallas, their were other useless targets. But when the
    Saviors of MLS decided to pick teams to save, AEG and Hunt picked
    SJ and Dallas. Miami with its absentee owner and Tampa, never
    having a owner, were easy easy targets. Please stop spreading the
    garbage that no one went to Mutiny and Fusion games (and “bad names
    aside”… Burn? Clash? Revolution? Seriously). FL teams had decent
    attendance, just as good or better than certain CA or TX teams at
    the time. Its all about ownership. Sorta like the useless ones in

    1. Rumor at the time was that none other than George Steinbrenner
      considered saving the Mutiny, but took one look at their lease for
      Raymond James Stadium and immediately halted further due diligence.
      San Jose actually were briefly operated by the Krafts (for about a
      year or so). They actually made the name change from Clash to
      Earthquakes. I think they then transferred the franchise to the
      owners of the San Jose Sharks, who only held it for about a year or
      two before AEG ended up taking it off their hands during the

      1. Miami Fusion, in their final season, finally got their sh*t together — both on and off the field for the first time. THe first few years were a disaster. But during their final season, the fans started pouring back and the club was on a high, ready to finally crack the South Florida market. And then the rug was pulled from right under them.

        That final season, there were three other clubs who had average attendances lower than the Fusion. If the Fusion had stayed, they would have increased their average attendance the following season from ~11,000 to 15,000+.


        The Gaffer

    1. Give them fruit baskets, name a trophy after Kraft, thank them for
      their service and get serious about bring CBus, the Revs and FC
      Dallas about. Just look at what happened when the Hunts ceased
      control of KC, 5 years later, KC has a strong base and a beautiful

  6. None of these op-eds mean anything if Kraft NEVER receives a
    written demand from the fans. Unless he gets an envelope along with
    the rest of his bills, he will never really know what the Boston
    soccer fan thinks. He’s too insulated.

    1. I agree with you in theory, but he really doesn’t care what we
      think regardless if it’s in an envelope, on a silver platter, or
      dropped in by helicopter. The Krafts have other, far more important
      priorities to look after like Tom Brady’s deep tissue massage. The
      only way to get his attention is to stop going to games and stop
      paying attention to the team. Don’t renew your season tickets,
      things like that.

  7. To give everyone context of how poorly run this club is – we have
    been losing quality players every season and not replacing the
    talent. When the front office does sign someone good, like Perovic
    or Caraglio, they simply fail to re-sign them. I hope they contract
    this team and start over fresh.

  8. We just let Perovic go. I am going to give Heaps the benefit of the
    doubt. He went after this position hard rather than the Krafts just
    giving it to him being cheap. Kraft’s issue is thathewants Foxboro
    to become the center of the universe. The last two years not
    withstanding, the Revs on field product has been pretty damn good.

  9. “The last two years notwithstanding” is like saying everything was
    fine in Fukushima before that pesky earthquake and tsunami came
    along. The team has been headed south for longer than 2 years. It’s
    2012. The last halfway decent season was 2008. That’s on the field.
    Off the field they’ve been a disaster for a decade. They have the
    same miniscule local profile they’ve always had. They’re ignored by
    the media and the team relies on group sales and the Beckham game
    for attendance numbers. They’ve driven off thousands of fans, and
    have a pathetic season’s ticket holder base for a 16 year old team
    (roughly 5K). Portland and Seattle have more people on their
    waiting list.

  10. Teams going through rebuilding periods, what can I say. It happens.
    I have no love for Kraft but I am willing to get behind Heaps. I
    know the sort of guy he is. I honestly believe getting the team
    into Boston would increase attendance by at least 3000, probably

  11. What bugs me most about this piece is that this guy is basically
    telling the League to come take our team away. What gives you the
    right to do that? Do you even live in the area?

  12. As a Revs fan, I’m not completely happy at all, but this is a very
    badly written piece, full of opinion and conjecture.

  13. PS: Contraction? How do you figure? The Rev’s, as poorly attended
    to by the owners as they are, are in the the black, actually. Being
    profitable seems to be the owner’s #1 priority and it’s working at
    least in that regard. Even if they lost money, Kraft has the
    resources to float them forever, not saying he would, but he could.
    So, please tell me how they would contract, when they are making
    money, the franchise’s equity is growing and also, the team is owed
    by one of the wealthiest owners in MLS.

  14. NE does not need to be contracted. Kraft just needs a kick in the
    nuts. Miami and Tampa fan support was fine, only problem with them
    was poor/nonexistent ownership. They deserve another shot with
    MLS#20. NE fans should not boycott season tickets. This will not
    get krafts attention. It will just encourage him to spend less and
    encourage MLS to contract or move the team. Keep supporting your
    club but make your voices heard… giant anti-ownership tifo’s and
    chants should be happening at every home game in the Fort.

  15. Colorado makes less money than Seattle makes on cotton candy sales
    alone. Bye-bye Rapids. In all seriousness, I agree that a writer
    throwing out contraction for his reader’s teams is a little
    rediculous and would tick me off too. I would forget about it
    around the same time as I watch my first NBA basketball game. For
    once I agree with Alex, the downside of having franchises is they
    CAN be moved. New England should NOT be, except to maybe a new
    stadium……This is a parity league and it is VERY hard to win the
    league. New England came close many times, very recently.

    1. I was jusr messing around with OTom there definitely NOT serious.
      Why would MLS contract in any city right now? When they have
      investors lining up.

  16. Kraft is the source of all problems at the Revs. Stevie failed
    because he was forced to gamble on finding draft picks like
    Shalrie, Taylor, Parkhurst, Dempsey… the list goes on. I mean
    lets be honest, Clint is probably the best US player right now and
    he went 8th in the draft! But you can’t depend the draft forever.
    And here’s the kicker (no pun intended Kraft, you football minded
    whore), when a coach does poorly he gets fired and who ever is
    paying the bills makes sure someone qualified steps in. Kraft
    couldn’t care less about the Revs so without any pressure from
    management or budget to find someone better, the Revs management
    went and put one of their good ole pals a job. Hey, why get someone
    who can bring change when you know a guy you’re already buddies
    with. I’ll give heaps a chance but I’m a firm believer that until
    Kraft starts investing more interest and cash in the Revs, the
    little money he is investing will go wasted.

    1. I disagree your point about Heaps. He loves this team and will give
      more to it than anybody else out there. On board with comments
      about Kraft.

  17. Contraction shouldn’t be an option. Yes they’ve been struggling in attendance, but the Patriots also struggled mightily for years,and might still to this day if not for their surge in results.

    The part that sucks for the Revolution is that they are bound to use an NFL style stadium. The difference between Seattle’s CenturyLink Field and Gillette Stadium is simple – one is located in downtown, one is located in a remote suburb. If the Revolution put together a good team with good results, people will return. But there is no reason to support a poor team when you’re going to a cavern way out of your way.

    For people who claim to have a real commitment to US Soccer (Kraft and Gulati), they don’t seem to have a forward thought to their own legacy in the Northeast. They have a lot of land around Gillette, they really need to construct a 20,000 seat stadium that gives fans a reason to celebrate the team. Finding a tract closer to Beantown would be an even better option. But I really don’t see contraction as a good move (not outside of getting into this whole argument of promotion/relegation, which is another ball of wax).

    1. That is most likely the only difference between the Clink (
      Sounders ) and Gillette ( Revs )………………….One, they
      don’t erase the lines for the Revs games, small thing yes, but
      symbolic of the bigger picture for sure………………..Two, the
      Sounder’s stadium was built for…..the Sounders. It was what we
      voted on, it was built for them. Shared with the Seahawks, and
      others, but it was built primarily for football of BOTH kinds. This
      was true to the point that grass was to be used instead of turf.
      That didn’t happen in the end, but they are still violating the
      law. The Sounders played there when there were less than 10k of us
      attending and they always will.

    2. Any coments about the relationship between NE and Sunil Gulatis,
      President off the USSF? Nothing? Nada? Zip?

  18. Yeah, go take a team from the guy on the cover of this week’s SI.
    Best we in New England can hope for is someone to buy minority
    ownership in the team and take over all the soccer-related

  19. I don’t know if contraction is the answer. But trying a new city
    can be a plus. As messed up as it was for San Jose (they didn’t
    deserve it); Houston has turned out to be a winner with great fan
    support. There was a nice little sea of orange at the past Cup
    Final in my team’s home. In my opinion, what’s worse than the Kraft
    situation, is the D.C. United issue. Our league’s most storied team
    in terms of championships; can’t even get a new stadium and they
    have the fan support in cavernous RFK!!!! Get with it D.C. you put
    up with horrible Orioles team (I know it’s Baltimore, but close
    enough) who haven’t been relevant since the 1970’s/early 80’s. The
    Wizards are one of the worst teams in basketball and Redskins
    haven’t been good in a while. Treat your winning franchise with
    some respect!!

    1. RFK Stadium is rife for demolition and redevelopment as a
      soccer/football specific stadium. Make it large enough (30K or so)
      to accommodate the few football games that are still played there.
      Keep the RFK name. The whole thing could be accomplished for less
      than $100 million and would be a boon for the area and the
      aesthetic of DC. The likelihood is that the annual bowl game played
      at RFK is going to end up abolished anyway once the NCAA
      reevaluates the bowl system this year. There is really nothing to
      lose by redeveloping the site. So why won’t they do it? My personal
      conspiracy theory is that the DC City leadership is holding out
      hope that, with the increasingly shorter lifespans of NFL stadiums,
      they can hold onto the site for another 10-20 years and lure the
      Redskins back to the city proper with a redevelopment on the same

  20. Two things would have to happen to the Revs that would make me care
    about them: 1) The Krafts would have to sell the club and 2) They
    would have to move to Connecticut. Otherwise I could careless if
    they floundered in mediocrity ’til the end of days.

    1. Robert, who doesn’t watch MLS, fails to realize that New England
      made the MLS Cup 4 times in the last 9 years. Nice, seriously Wiki
      these things before you post, or you kill your really bad arguments
      before they start.

      1. When you have imposed parity, any team can win. The institution of
        pro/rel will have to be necessarily accompained by the disolution
        of “single entity”. ……….. The disolution of “single entity”
        will not happen without getting rid of “the cartel” that controls
        our game in the US……………So , your point that “…….New
        England made the MLS Cup 4 times in the last 9 years”, is
        irrelevant to the point that Robert made, because on a competitive
        Pro/rel system, teams managed like NE is, do not go up the ranks,
        they go down……………Remember how you guys used to use
        Portmouth as an example against pro/rel? Where is Portmouth now?

  21. Soccer in this country is not at the point where promotion and
    relegation is a realistic option. The current lower leagues are not
    nearly good enough. Also, this country has a long history of
    franchised teams within a league rather than privately owned clubs
    who are members of a league system. Some form of
    promotion/relegation is a concept to put in something like a 10 or
    12-year plan for MLS. For instance, grow the league to a strong
    28-30 teams and then split into two leagues. MLS “Premier” with 15
    teams and regular MLS with 15 teams (or something like that). This
    would maintain the franchises within the MLS brand and make sure
    there were adequate facilities to promote a truly professional
    league in both tiers of competition. I realize there are
    complications with this, but it’s one fairly simple idea in my

    1. How would the lower league teams get ready for promotion and
      relegation? By playing year after year on meaningless leagues? Or
      by having a substantial incentive like promotion? Did it take
      Seattle, Portland and Vancouver 14 years to be MLS ready?
      ….Puerto Rico can make the transition in 1 year, but big USA can
      not?……………..Have in consideration that pro/rel could be
      implemented in many diferent ways. It does not have to be automatic
      pro/rel, it could be play off pro/rel so that if the best lower
      league clubs CAN NOT beat the worst MLS team, it will not be
      promoted…………………………..the only hurdle for pro/rel
      in the US is “single entity” everything else is smoke thrown on our
      faces……………..single entity was IMPOSED without any
      consideration of the fans, by a small group that has kidnapped the
      game from us in the US…… long as we dont get rid of them,
      our club soccer is stuck in neutral, and you MLS cheerleaders can
      keep enjoying your 10 team, single game playoff finals, with all
      players signed by the same entity, and dress by the same kit
      maker………….aaahhh don’t forget the All Stars game , and the
      Summer Supergalactic Stratosferic Series brought to you by Chuck
      ECheese,…….I know , I know , you guys can’t wait!

  22. Relocate them to New York city and rebrand as the NY Cosmos after
    “The Don” gets the green light on buildind a SSS in Queens or even

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *