Based on nothing more than perception, Chivas USA, DC United, and the New England Revolution have essentially become the heels of Major League Soccer. Over the past few days two of these teams have had their heel titles altered in vastly different ways. Chivas came front and center on an episode of HBO's Real Sports. This amplified their "bad team" status ten-fold. Then, today, D.C. United announced what seemed to be feasible, realistic stadium plans. This announcement has the possibility of essentially making a clean slate for a dreadful season. After all, this is what everyone has been saying both New England and DC United need. So what exactly is the best move for New England?
Yes, the whispered rumors of Somerville and Revere get tossed around at season ticket renewal time. It is very unfortunate for New England that the last round of rumors seemed to bear a little weight with the Mayor of Revere seeming trying to court the team, but nothing came.
Now, as most MLS fans have written off Chivas as the organization most likely to be bought by David Beckham and moved to Miami, all eyes turn towards New England. It is now time to brace for the vitriol that every team's supporters the Revs are holding back the league. Everyone, from the most casual MLS fan up to Don Garber - whether he admits it or not - wants words of progress in New England. Focus has immediately jumped to New England as the last of the original teams without a SSS. Frankly, words like embarrassment, fossil, and relic are being tossed around by journalists.
They are not necessarily wrong either. Assuming the DC United SSS is a reality and is completed by 2016, it would leave New England, and most likely New York City FC, as the only teams not playing in stadiums designed for soccer or with soccer in mind. Today, with the construction of the San Jose Earthquake stadium and the plans for the D.C. one, there will be 16 soccer-first stadiums in MLS. Then there is Century-Link and B.C. Place built with soccer in mind. Yes, allegedly Gillette was built with soccer in mind, but let's be honest here.
Meanwhile, the Revolution have not carved out a footprint in their market, but neither have the New York Red Bulls or Colorado Rapids, though the latter two do have their own stadiums. The unfortunate truth is if the Revs closed shop tomorrow, most people in Boston wouldn't even register it on their radar. There is no stadium, despite the various minor league teams throughout New England having their own stadiums.
A soccer-specific stadium shows intention on being around forever. It's why the original NASL could close, there were no concrete roots. The soccer-specific stadiums are just that. Gillette, while a fine, state-of-the-art NFL stadium, is a sign of MLS 1.0. It doesn't help that, 11 years into the stadium's existence, there is still no permanent Revolution signage in Gillette. It is a mobile home in a nice neighborhood. A very nice mobile home, but a sign of transient behavior nonetheless.
Granted, it's hard to build in Boston. How do we know this? Because while it is true, it has become a motto for Revs fans who are trying to stay positive. The District of Columbia, much like Boston, is engulfed in the same sorts of turmoil that have made building a stadium in the city proper difficult. Namely, density, space, cost, and politics make building in either Boston or the District (and as we're seeing now New York City) hard. But DC has somehow found a way.
Don Garber noted that following the announcement of NYCFC he could now focus on other franchises. New England should be, could be, hopefully will be, first in line. The respectability of the organization is now on the line. No one wants to be the one everyone is laughing at. So where do we go from here?
It's now completely official, New England: you're on the clock.
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