New England Revolution

Inheritors of the Red Sox curse, spending 2002 to 2007 as a perennial contender. The core finally fell apart, the Revs parted with longtime coach Steve Nicol, and former defender Jay Heaps was left to rebuild.

Trophies: 2007 U.S. Open Cup, 2008 SuperLiga

Fan personality: A little grouchy. All those runner-up finishes were discouraging, and fans often fret that the ownership is inattentive, focusing just a bit more on the NFL Patriots than the Revolution. Just a bit. The team has an uber-supporter in Hoover Dam, who creates majestic banners for players, both for the Revs and for the national team, and keeps up a prolific Twitter feed.


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Stadium situation: Gillette Stadium isn’t as dire a situation as D.C. United’s RFK Stadium. It’s considerably newer and sleeker, and it’s a little more difficult to get ripped off on rent when the same owner also fills the venue with Patriots fans. But the turf (artificial) suffers during football season, and the atmosphere isn’t great given the cavernous size of the place. Getting out isn’t a do-or-die situation as it is in D.C., but the Revs are poking around for a new home.

History

Perhaps the defining moment of the Revolution’s first four years in the league was when colorful Italian goalkeeper Walter Zenga ran to the stands to kiss his girlfriend after a Revolution goal and didn’t return in time to stop a long-range Tampa Bay shot that thankfully went wide. He later returned as player-coach.

Things changed in 2002 when Liverpool legend Steve Nicol took over. The Revs were MLS Cup runner-ups in 2002. And 2005. And 2006. And 2007. The long-standing core of goal-poacher Taylor Twellman, MLS assist king Steve Ralston, intimidating goalkeeper Matt Reis, midfield anchor Shalrie Joseph and defender Jay Heaps finally got a trophy when Pat Noonan was the offensive force behind a 3-2 win in the 2007 U.S. Open Cup final.

The next year brought another oddball incident — staffers helped to subdue an unruly passenger on a flight to Los Angeles — and another trophy — beating nemesis Houston in the SuperLiga final. The Revs have skidded a bit since then, with a lot of the core moving on. Concussions sadly sidelined Twellman, now an insightful TV analyst. And Heaps retired, moved to the TV booth, then moved to the sidelines to replace Nicol and start a long rebuilding process.

2013 previews: MLSSoccer.com, ESPN, Soccer America, SB Nation

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