Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots – it’s fair to say Boston is a huge city for sport. Since 1994, that list has also included the New England Revolution. Although with baseball, basketball, ice hockey and football all so popular in the US, soccer has taken something of a back seat.

Not anymore. Soccer is becoming more popular in the states by the year, with an average attendance now exceeding 20,000 per game. In other words, it’s time you got familiar with the New England Revolution.

The beginning & the basics

Going back to the early 1990s, the New England Revolution were one of the founding members of Major League Soccer. They were joined by nine other teams from the US, including DC United, LA Galaxy and Columbus Crew. Of course, that number has now grown to over 20, including three teams from Canada, which is arguably more renowned for golf, ice hockey and plenty of online casinos (

Much like many of Boston’s sports teams, they have a strong rivalry with their New York counterparts – in this case the Red Bulls. New York City have been no exception either, since their launch in 2015. The team has also developed rivalries with DC United and Chicago Fire given their many meetings in the regular season and playoffs.

Needless to say, the ‘Revs’ took their name from New England’s involvement in the 18th century American revolution – similar to the Patriots in the NFL. Also like to the Patriots, the Revolution is owned by Massachusetts-born businessman Robert Kraft. However, the team hasn’t managed to emulate the success of their football counterparts, who have been dominant in the NFL over the past two decades.

History and successes

Despite having a healthy following of over 15,000 from their first few seasons, the Revolution failed to make a real impact in the MLS in the 90s and early 2000s. They made the play-offs (top eight) just two times in their first six years, competing in a league of just 10 teams.

That all changed in 2002, when ex-Liverpool defender Steve Nicol took the reigns. Under Nicol, the Revs made the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons, with six appearances in the conference finals. The Revolution managed to progress to the MLS Cup final on four of those occasions, in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

While they didn’t manage to clinch the trophy under Nicol, they did lift the Open Cup in 2007, qualifying them for the 2008 CONCACAF Champions League. That was combined with a top four finish, securing a spot in the 2008 North American SuperLiga – making a total of four competitions to compete in through 2008 along with the MLS and Open Cup. While they managed to win the SuperLiga, the overhaul of fixtures saw them underachieve in all other competitions.

Life after Nicol

The Revs continued their poor form in 2009-2011, ultimately bringing Steve Nicol’s tenure to an end. He was replaced by Jay Heaps who enjoyed mixed fortunes before guiding New England to an MLS Cup Final in 2014, thanks in part to Lee Nguyen scoring 18 goals.

In 2017, Heaps was succeeded by US goalkeeping legend Brad Friedel, whose uneventful spell was brought to an end when Bruce Arena was hired in 2019. Could Arena lead the Revs to their first MLS Cup or Supporters’ Shield? With Playoff qualification clinched, the signs are good. But ultimately, only time will tell…