I'm definitely not going to be the first person to say this, but god is it rough being a Revs fan. It's painful to think that 3 years ago, at this point in time, the Revs were surging, lead by brand-new acquisition Jermaine Jones, and league MVP candidate Lee Nguyen on a historic tear. Fast-forward to today, and the Revolution are 4 points out of a playoff spot, and are nearly out of playoff contention with one more New York Red Bulls victory. What went wrong this year? Well, a lot.
1. The Coaching Staff
2. The Front Office
3. The Fans
Let's start off by discussing the coaching staff. Jay Heaps was a phenomenal player for the Revs during his tenure, and in taking over for Steve Nicol in the early 2010s was fantastic in leading his teams to deep playoff runs. As much as I rag on Jermaine Jones, his and Jay Heaps' relationship was key in the team's success. However, following the collapse that was the playoff game against D.C. United in 2015, Jay Heaps no longer had an identifiable leader on the roster. It was now solely in Jay's hands to keep the ship righted and steer the team back to the playoffs. Let's just say he didn't succeed. If you thought 2016 was bad, then 2017 must've been brutal to watch. Jay had very clearly lost the locker room, and failed to put out winning lineups in must-win games, leading to backlash from both the fans and the collective media. In turn, Heaps was relieved of his duties early last month, and was replaced by Tom Soehn. The coaching change, in the midst of contending for a playoff spot, may not have been the best idea, but it's safe to say the coaching job will definitely be up for grabs before the beginning of the 2018 MLS season.
2. The Front Office
The Revolution are owned by the worst owners in MLS, the Krafts. Now don't get me wrong, Robert is probably one of the greatest owners in the history of the NFL, but when it comes to soccer, it's a totally different story. The man doesn't put any money into a team, offloads all the assets of the team to his son, and shows little to no interest in seeing the franchise succeed. Bringing in JJ was a huge leap for Rob back in 2014, his first real big signing, but since then, most of the fireworks have been utter duds. Sambinha was a mess, and the team usually only signs two players each transfer window. That's egregious when your team's owner is out purchasing jumbo jets for his football team. Without money, and with incredibly small contracts for each of their players, attracting talent is incredibly hard, and keeping them in New England is a whole different challenge. This also shows the blame cannot entirely be placed on coach Heaps, as he really never had the lineup depth of his playoff teams after 2014, and didn't have the financial freedom to compete with the ever-expanding league.
3. The Fans
I'm one of many fans who began to rant on twitter, and through my articles, and I'll be honest, I gave up on my team. We, gave up on our team. The supporter's groups clashed, both with fans, TeamOps employees, and eachother, and rightfully so, the players began to lose a slight amount of respect for those few fans. I, myself, noticed this when players began to avoid fans asking for selfies, or hi-fives pre-game, by circling around the back exit of the player's tunnel, and fewer players started arriving to autograph alley post game. Most of those guys seemed as if they were forced to be out there. "Heaps Out" chants ran riot during games, and crowds continued to thin as the season went on. I cancelled my season ticket membership a few weeks ago, and many other have followed suit.
For this time to rebound, to return to it's prominence in the fall of 2014, they need to copy that team's formula. Great chemistry, consistent line-ups, and the funds to provide players with the money they deserve. Until then, we're going to have to rebuild, and though it may be a rough ride, I'll be waiting on the other side, to finally see my boys win their first MLS Cup.