Monday, April 20, 2009

New England

In Major League Soccer, there are 15 teams from a total of 16 US states. It doesn't quite add up, does it?

And when you think about it, given that California has three teams and Texas has two, the statistic seems nigh on impossible.

It is made possible by New England Revolution. Whereas most MLS teams represent a single city, let alone a state, the Revs actually cover a large geographical area which includes an impressive six states in total.

Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachuessets and Rhode Island make up the New England area, and are represented by the team owned by Robert Kraft, the mulit-millionaire paper & packaging supremo who also owns the Patriots American Football team.

The Revolution (and the Patriots) play at the Gillette Stadium, also owned by Kraft, which is based in Foxborough, Massachuessets. Foxborough is about an hour drive outside of Boston, the largest city in New England.

So it seemed wise to visit Boston, meet with the fans and go to the stadium from there. If only it was that simple...

The 'visit Boston and meet with the fans part' went fine; the Revs fans were more than willing to share their experiences of supporting the team with me. It was the 'go to the stadium from there' part which proved difficult. In fact, make that 'impossible'...

Public transport only takes you to within about 10miles of the Gillette. On a match day, there are then shuttle buses that take you to and from the stadium. But on a regular day, you require a taxi.

Apparently the Red Sox home opener is not a regular day...

There was not a single taxi company in the area (and I tried several!) available to make the short trip. They were all booked up by excited baseball fans on their way to Fenway.

So, sadly, I cannot tell you any more about the Gillette stadium than what I was told by the fans. Although one of them, Sean, was hopeful about the rumour of the Revs moving from Foxborough to the much closer Boston suburb of Somerville.

“I really hope it's true”, Sean told me. “It would make the team much more accessible to fans – and that way I wouldn't have to rely on a ride from other supporters!”

The commute to games is a difficulty the Revs fans live with, and it doesn't stop one fan making a regular 1,364 mile round-trip from Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Another fan, Evan, told me the Revs and the league itself have developed so much since he started supporting, that it makes trips like that worthwhile.

“The differences are night and day”, says Evan, “not only in terms of the quality of play, but in how the game is treated by club owners and investors. Gone are many of the gimmicks first used to sell the sport to American fans, replaced by a level of respect for the culture and traditions of the game.”

With former Liverpool & Scotland star Steve Nicol as head coach, it is no wonder that the Revolution have embraced these traditions as much as any other team. Nicol has led the team to the MLS Cup final on four occasions, and won the Open Cup in 2007. I will be speaking to him later in the week, to find out how they are prepared for this season.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for the article. Just a couple of responses from a local. It's true, Foxborough is really only accessible by car. But It's an exagerration to say it's an hour from Boston. It's more like 40/45 mins. So sadly, most of the Rev's fan base consists of suburbanites in vans and SUVs. It would be great to get that whole untapped urban element to come. that would be huge. Also, Somerville isn't what I would describe as a suburb of Boston. It's hard up against the Boston border and it is a very hip urban area, full of those great urbanites I mentioned. In addition, Somerville is at the same time working class. It's a very diverse place. International and sophisticated Cambridge is very close too. On it's own Somerville has more eclectic appeal than most other American mid to large cities. I definitely, don't consider Somerville suburban.

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  2. Even though I've moved to San Diego and love supporting CD Chivas USA, the REVS will always be my number one.

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  3. NE Revs have been my fav also... :)...

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  4. I have been in search of such interesting Articles, I am on a holiday its good to see that everyone are trying their best to keep up the Spirit by having such great articles posted.

    Cheers, Keep it up.


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