After a roller-coaster season that will end Sunday without playoff berth, the New England Revolution hope to close out the 2017 campaign by doing something they haven’t done all year– win on the road. The Revs, winners of a club record 12 home matches this season, found each visiting venue to be a house of horrors. With a victory on Sunday, however, the team could finally lift a weight off their shoulders heading into the 2018 season.
As it stands, the Revolution have a league worst 0-13-3 record away from Gillette Stadium. It’s an embarrassing feat for a soccer club full of pride. Never in the team’s 22-season existence have they gone without a victory on the road. They know that Sunday’s match, regardless of having zero playoff implications, is vital in sustaining momentum heading into next season.
Forward Teal Bunbury, fourth on the team with 7 goals this year, stressed the importance of Sunday’s clash with the Montreal Impact after yesterday’s practice. “It’s got to be huge for all of us. We pride ourselves on winning games and being professionals and we need to go on an away trip and be able to get three points. It’s something we should’ve already done.”
Chris Tierney, longest tenured member of the Revolution, also spoke following the uptempo practice. “There’s plenty to play for. You want to finish as high as you can and any time you put the jersey on, you want to put in a good performance individually and collectively for the club.”
While a full season without a road victory would be disastrous in itself, it’s the way in which the team lost away from Gillette that’s truly shocking. More often than not, the Revs found themselves outplayed, out-manned, and out-coached away from the Razor. Frustration finally boiled over during a string of three consecutive road loses in September.
On September 13, the Revs found themselves out-manned, and subsequently, man-handled by the Atlanta United FC. In a night everything went astray, the Revs were forced to play with nine players by the end of the first half. By the 38th minute, Xavier Kouassi and Antonio Delamea had both been ejected from the contest for committing hard fouls. Atlanta would tack on five goals following the ouster of the Revs competitors to blow out New England 7-0.
Following the trainwreck in Atlanta, things didn’t improve for the Revs three days later in Kansas City. That’s not to say things started poorly. In fact, the Revs took it to KC early with Teal Bunbury scoring just 4 minutes into the affair. However, the good times would not keep on rolling. In the 11th minute of the match, the Revolution’s Krisztian Nemeth was shown the red card for violent conduct. With 10 players on the pitch and Kouassi and Delamea serving their suspensions, the Revs would surrender three consecutive goals. They’d go on to lose 3-1.
After two cringe-worthy performances on the road, the New England Revolution relieved head coach Jay Heaps of his duties. With the playoffs still a mathematical possibility, the organization hoped the switch would light a fire in the squad. The effects of the change proved unsustainable as the Revs would be obliterated in Orlando 11 days later. During the one-sided contest, New England yet again found themselves undermanned as Kouassi earned another red card and ejection. The Revolution would go on to lose by a final of 6-1.
In a span of 3 road games, opponents had outscored the Revolution by a 16-2 margin. With those back-to-back-to-back crushing blows, hope of a playoff berth went by the wayside.
The Revolution’s Road Ahead
The Revolution will undergo many changes this offseason. Without question, the biggest decision looming over the organization than the selection of a new head coach. The Revs will interview numerous possible candidates, including the club’s current interim coach, Tom Soehn.
Following Heaps’s firing, General Manager Michael Burns affirmed the club will conduct an extensive search for a new head coach. With a fan base growing impatient, Burns knows the organization’s next pick has to be right on the money.
“We’re not going to make any rash decisions, but we want to begin the process now in searching for that candidate. There’s no timetable that we’ve set on hiring a candidate. We want to make sure that we do our due diligence and make a smart hire, Burns said back in September.
“It would be important for the next head coach to be able to get in here as soon as possible to be involved in player personnel decisions, roster construction and all the things that go into drafts and protected lists for expansion.”
Finding prospective candidates for the position does not seem to be an issue as Burns had previously mentioned to members of the media that “there’s a lot more interest and intrigue internationally than there was even six years ago, from a coaching standpoint and from a player standpoint.”
Ending on a High Note
While the New England Revolution’s 2017 campaign failed to live up to expectations, there’s belief across the organization and fan base that they’re on to bigger and better things. Led by stars Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, and Kei Kamara, the future of the Revs certainly has potential. However, fans will want to witness the scrappy squad they’d once been accustomed to seeing each and every match.
A season-ending victory this Sunday would be a great start.