The new England Revolution continue to struggle on the field while issues off the field may alienate its strongest fan base, The Fort.
By Ryan Fleming
It has become common place, unfortunately. The New England Revolution’s struggles not only on the field, but off of it have been hurting the team. Since this has been going on for a few years, it’s something that has been notice and directly keeping people from attending games.
Due to the lack of quality the Revs have put on the field, the attendance has naturally suffered. As of June 18, New England currently has the league’s third lowest attendance (12,008), less than 2,000 more than Columbus. Despite the team’s strong start to the season and the spotlight signing of United States Men’s National Team midfielder, Benny Feilhaber, the Revs are currently the definition of the word struggling.
Managing a 1-5-3 record since May 7 – scoring a meek four goals within that frame – the Revs Front Office hasn’t found that main piece yet, a consistent offensive threat. The last two years alone, New England has brought over countless players, many that are now pieces of different clubs.
Not to make all the Revs supporters start putting their faces in each own respective palms, but without digging to deep into the past, a date that sticks out is Jan 22, 2010 when Jeff Larentowicz was traded to the 2010 MLS Cup champs, the Colorado Rapids. When the Pasadena, CA native was traded, he was a four year veteran in the New England midfield, and now he is one of the most talented defensive midfielders in the league.
Since then names like Michael Augustine, Taylor Twellman, Edgarus Jankauskus, Roberto Linck and Ilja Stolica have either retired, been released or have been banished to the Revolution B-Team. Most are marked attempts of failure. It seems that the Revs are now continuously searching for that diamond in the rough, instead of putting down some more cash on a more solidified offensive threat.
Rajko Lekic and Ryan Guy are two of the latest gambles that team Vice President of Player Personnel Michael Burns has rolled the dice on. It’s too early to tell how the two will perform in the physical style the MLS brings, but if Lekic and Guy are just more names on the should-have-been list, then the stands at Gillette Stadium will remain bare sometime longer.
Supporter groups have their pride, certainly a sense of camaraderie and a strong sense of passion. In the MLS fans are still being formed everyday in a sport that is behind the Major Four in the US. This past weekend an incident within The Fort, the main supporter section in Gillette, has caused an outcry among the season ticket holders via Twitter. Many fans are questioning, “between a lack of a DP (Designated Player) and now this (incident) why should I renew?”
The YSA chant (see here) is hardly derogatory. There are slanders, homophobic remarks and other crude comments that I can remember being yelled at every single sporting event I’ve been to. Another twitter user went on to say, “One Revs fan watched as security laughed at college kids using blatant homophobic slurs. Security did nothing. Ten minutes later YSA happened.” Following the YSA chant TeamOps employees arrested an undisclosed amount of people, many after a majority of The Fort decided to leave the game.
What can be pointed pointed out is that the policy was extremely inconsistent and to fans that are already frustrated by the product they see on the field, intolerable. In a statement made on the team’s Facebook page, Chief Operating Officer Brian Biello stated: “As for claims that we are somehow not treating our most loyal fans right I take great exception with that. Every one of our STHs [Season Ticket Holders] show at least the same amount of loyalty and dedication to this team turning up week after week and year after year and our organization owes just as much service and response to them (those not in The Fort) as we do to our STH in the fort.”
This, in essence, is true. All fans, no matter if they continuously go to games or support an away team, deserve the same, equal treatment. That said, a sporting event is a time when nerves are tried, and frustrations are often taken out verbally. In no way am I condoning the use of profanity, but instead stating that a consistent enforcement is the best idea. The Revolution and its front office needs to look at its priorities and policies. Another incident such as the one that happened last Saturday cannot happen again and should not have happened in the first place. Questions need to be answered as Revolution supporters feel their support is taken for granted.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at Ryan.Fleming@thesoccerguysonline.com.