New England Revolution: Why Dan Shaughnessy is Dead Wrong


“Silver lining of Revs loss is that now we don’t have to pretend they are relevant. Nice try by the Revs. But we are a Four Team Town.”

-Dan Shaughnessy (@Dan_Shaughnessy)

Safe to say, that tweet by long-time Boston Globe reporter sparked a bit of anger and resent in the minds of many Revs fans. Following the Revolutions’ loss to the LA Galaxy in the MLS Cup, Shaughnessy took to Twitter to voice his opinion about the apparent irrelevance of the Revs in the Boston sports market.

Yes, he may just be looking for attention here. But hey, if that’s what he’s looking for, we might as well give him the facts.

The Revolution have stormed their way onto the scene in Boston sports over the course of their most recent season; in particular, since late last summer. With the struggling Revs squad falling out of the playoff race, the team went out and did something we thought would never happen — sign a designated player. That man, Jermanine Jones, immediately brought more relevance to the team as a whole. In seeing a very recognizable player from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, many fans were able to draw a connection to their local soccer club.

After that signing, the Revs went on a tear. Jones, along with help from MVP finalist Lee Nguyen, bolstered the club to the number two seed in the Eastern Conference, which lead to their fifth MLS Cup appearance in franchise history.

This success, along with heightened fan support, has pushed owner Robert Kraft to look more intensely into a new, soccer-specific home for the Revolution. Although this conversation has been brought up multiple times over the past handful of years, it finally looks that this time, these plans will crystallize.

So, with a possible new home in South Boston, are the Revs still “pretend(ing) they are relevant”?

Far from it.

As seen during last summer’s FIFA World Cup, Boston serves as one of the biggest soccer markets in the up-and-coming world of American soccer. So, it’s obvious that having a stadium 45 minutes out of the city is a huge problem in terms of attendance. Having this new stadium in Boston would see an immediate boost in support for the club, as they inch closer and closer to there first MLS Cup win.

But, even with their current, far-from-ideal stadium situation, the Revs have seen a steady upward trend in attendance over the past few years; from just under 13,000 in 2010, to over 16,500 this past season. And, in the Revs’ twelve playoff appearances in club history, this season saw the highest playoff attendance ever, at just over 20,000 supporters per match.

Dec 7, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New England Revolution player Chris Tierney (right) celebrates with teammate Patrick Mullins (left) after scoring a goal against the Los Angeles Galaxy in the second half during the 2014 MLS Cup final at Stubhub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

But, I see one other factor being the key to the Revolution’s climb to relevancy…

The MLS is growing. And fast.

With yesterday’s MLS Expansion Draft completed, which saw the Revs lose two players including Pat Mullins, two new clubs are now fully equipped and ready to play next season; NYCFC and Orlando City SC. And, looking forward, three more teams are expected to join, two of which (Atlanta [new] and LA [replacing Chivas USA]) by 2017, with Miami’s debut TBA (pending stadium agreement). With those additions, the MLS expects to stand as a 23 team league within the next handful of years.

Let’s put that in perspective, and go back in time just 10 years:

  • 2004: 10 teams
  • 2005: 12 teams
  • 2006: 12 teams
  • 2007: 13 teams
  • 2008: 14 teams
  • 2009: 15 teams
  • 2010: 16 teams
  • 2011: 18 teams
  • 2012: 19 teams
  • 2013: 19 teams
  • 2014: 19 teams
  • 2015: 20 teams (Chivas USA disbands, with LA to replace in 2017)
  • 2017?: 22-23 teams (depending on plans of new Miami club)

With that significant upward trend, it’s easy to see that the MLS is a growing league. With expansions happening left and right, soccer in America is quickly reaching out to new markets annually. Now, not only do teams span from Massachusetts to California, but the MLS now has two 2-team states (Texas and New York), and a soon-to-be 3-team state in California. Also in recent years, the league has expanded to include three Canadian teams. Since its inception in 1996, the MLS is finally inching toward the likes of the big four leagues of the United States.

The Revolution and the MLS are going nowhere. Your more, Mr. Shaughnessy.