It's not easy to be a New England Revolution fan. The long trips to Foxboro, lack of attention from mainstream media and scathing comments about ownership can be disheartening. Regardless of all of this, the supporters continue to show up to back the team that they love.
On Sunday night 11,293 fans filed into Gillette Stadium to watch their team face Clint Dempsey and the Seattle Sounders. While the number will never be lauded by the league, the commitment and passion that came from the stands was impressive.
Guided by the Midnight Riders and the Rebels of the Fort, fans cheered the Revs to a 5-0 victory. The fans were seen bouncing to "Seven Nation Army," raising their scarfs wildly and openly demanding more goals.
These sights and sounds didn't go unnoticed by the players on the pitch.
Sunday was Patrick Mullins' first authentic glimpse at the Foxboro faithful as the rookie's two previous appearances came on the road. Over the course of 90 minutes, Mullins used the energy that radiated from the stadium to steer his performance. Although he stopped short of naming a favorite chant, he certainly appreciated encouragement.
"We feed off of [the energy],"Mullins explained. "And the volume, we can hear when it's getting loud and we can hear it just chanting in the background. We love it."
Mullins scored the night's opening goal in the 14th minute, which was his second tally in as many games. The tap-in goal sparked an outburst of support as flags waved, fans yelled and "The Boys are Back" played through the speakers. The moment was certainly special for Mullins.
"The last two games I got to play in were both on the road, so I was particularly excited to get out there and see the fans today," Mullins reflected. "It was perfect. It's exactly how I want it to be. The energy they had went to us on the field, and I love playing in front of them."
Former Revolution player Ryan Guy echoed the sentiments of Mullins. Guy played with the Revs from 2011-2013, and quickly became a fan favorite. The upbeat player was versatile enough to sufficiently fill in at any position. He offered staunch defending as an outside back, sharp crossing as a winger and a tireless engine in the middle. His post-goal backflip celebration showcased the athleticism that made him so popular.
Guy grew fond of the New England area, largely due to the diehard sports scene. Whether it's Fenway, the Garden or Gillette, there's an infectious buzz that makes the region unique.
"I just want to say how much I appreciate New England fans," Guy said. "New England is without a doubt the best sports city I've ever been to in my life, let alone live."
Guy gives special recognition to soccer fans because they were so supportive during his time with the Revs. Even after leaving the team in 2013, he continues to feel the love. His most recent game results can generally be found on Twitter with some fans pushing hard for his return. This type of patronage is gratifying and doesn't go undetected.
"The New England soccer fan will forever hold a special place in my heart because they have so many great choices in terms of who want to support," Guy commented. "To put their heart and soul into a team that has come close so many times--and to have choices of teams that have done so many times--for them to choose the Revolution is really a testament to them. I'm not exactly sure what it means, but I can tell you something: it's a good thing and I love them for it."
Being a Revolution fan isn't easy, but it's certainly appreciated.