Revolution soccer: Scraping to return to glory

Saer Sene gives the Revs an electrifying presence.
Saer Sene gives the Revs an electrifying presence.

Don’t call it a rebuild. They’ve been here for years, 18 to be exact, and the New England Revolution are not content citing 2012 as a small stepping stone toward something better.

“We felt that while we made some strides last year it still wasn’t good enough,” general manager Mike Burns told Metro in advance of the club’s home-opener Saturday against Kansas City. “When I say it wasn’t good enough, the bottom line is we didn’t get in the playoffs.”

In fact, the Revolution, twice conference champs and four times MLS Cup finalists, have not made the playoffs since 2009, finishing 26 games below .500 in that span. While it may seem as if baby steps are necessary to dig out of such a hole, Burns and his staff were not willing to wait around.

There was a massive roster upheaval following the dismal 2011 season that included the ouster of longtime head coach Steve Nicol, and again many major changes after what most would perceive as progress in 2012. And now, Burns has the personnel he hopes will give second-year coach Jay Heaps the tools he needs to find success.

“We’re not going to predict or guarantee anything, but the feeling is that we have a much deeper team than we’ve had in the past few years. It’s becoming much more challenging for the players in terms of getting in the starting 11, getting in the travel party,” Burns said, citing some unhappy campers who didn’t get into the season-opening win in Chicago. “That makes for a better competitive environment as far as we’re concerned. We feel we have a lot more players this year who are capable of playing than probably we had in the last few years, and I think that’s why we’re optimistic.”

Some of that optimism was subdued when New England followed up the win over the Fire with a 1-0 loss in Philadelphia last weekend. Yet, the Revs were not woefully outplayed by the Union, rather succumbing to one unfortunate sequence that led to the only score.

With that in mind the loss will not be tough to overcome, especially with a full home slate on the horizon – New England was 7-4-6 at home last season and just 2-13-2 on the road.

“It’s the second game of the year,” said goalie Bobby Shuttleworth. “These are the kinds of losses we want to get out the way now so we can move forward, build on this, get points on the road and keep it going like.”

Regardless of where 2013 takes them, the Revolution are firmly entrenched in something bigger than most could imagine 18 years ago. They are among the building blocks for a league that many thought would crumble, yet is now looking to take on its 20th franchise and continuing to build soccer-specific stadiums that fill up with die-hards. New England will not be supplanting the Pats, Sox, C’s or B’s anytime soon, but the only legitimate uncertainty lies in how, when or if it rises back to the top of the Eastern Conference.

“I don’t think there’s another country in the world that has made as much progress in their league or in soccer for that matter, than the US has in the last 18 years.” Burns said. “I do not say that to make it sound like we’ve made it, because we still have a long way to go, but I really believe that. I don’t think there’s another country that can compete with us in terms of what we’ve done in the last 18 years.”

Three things Revs storylines to watch:

1. The return of Saer Sene: The talented forward, who led the team with 11 goals last season, is nearing the end of his rehab from a torn ACL. Burns said that barring any setback Sene will see game action in April.

2. The battle in net: Shuttleworth and veteran Matt Reis staged a battle for the starting goaltender position, with Reis, who turns 38 on March 28, edging his likely eventual replacement with a start in the opener. However, Reis was left out in Philadelphia due to a groin injury. Expect this to remain a fluid situation.

3. Kansas City doldrums: The Revs were 0-2-1 against Kansas City last season, getting outscored 4-0.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.