With 2016 in it's infancy, it's time to look back on the rollercoaster year that just took place for the New England Revolution. There were moments of sheer jubilation, periods of serious soul searching and plenty of days where the entire emotional spectrum was experienced.
Before we officially look ahead to all that 2016 has in store for Jay Heaps' team, let's reflect on the highlights and lowlights. Since the grind of an MLS season can be grueling, we present you with The Bent Musket's chronological GIF collection.
We tried to be funny, and it's up to you all to pick your favorites. Also, is GIF pronounced with a hard "G" or soft "G"? That eternal question will go unanswered for another day, so let's get down to business.
January 15 - MLS SuperDraft:
Kelyn Rowe, Andrew Farrell and Steve Neumann are all recent draft picks for the Revs, giving plenty of reason to be excited for the 2015 rendition, right? Well, think again. The Revs had only one pick in four rounds, and that came in the third round (remember Marc Fenelus? I didn't either until I googled his name).
Rather than selecting from college soccer's best and brightest, the Revs shrewdly traded their picks directly or indirectly for MLS-proven talent. Through one way or another, their picks resulted in Teal Bunbury, Brad Knighton, Sean Okoli and Jeremy Hall. It would have been nice to get a premier young talent, but not too shabby.
February 2015 - Preseason Trips:
After coming within inches of winning the 2014 MLS Cup and retaining that roster's core, there were plenty of reasons to be excited about the 2015 Revs. Pundits were picking Heaps' team to make another deep run, Juan Agudelo was back in town and the young guns were one year older.
Although it's hard to read into preseason results, the expectations were largely met while playing in Arizona. The team won three times, lost twice and drew once. The kinks were slowly sorting themselves out, match fitness was returning and the Revs were back, baby!
March 2015 - False Start:
In hindsight, it probably would have been best to temper expectations. MV-Lee was out through injury, Jermaine Jones was still recovering from his first sports hernia surgery and Andrew Farrell and Jose Goncalves weren't quite on the same wavelength in the heart of defense. The schedule wasn't too kind, either.
New England opened against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field, went to Yankee Stadium for NYCFC's first ever home game and then welcomed the Montreal Impact and San Jose Earthquakes to Gillette Stadium. The results? Two losses away from home, a draw to the lowly Impact and a rain-soaked win against San Jose.
Probably not what anyone had in mind, but it still was early in the year. Hope was not lost.
April to Mid-May 2015 - Flying High:
Now that was the New England Revolution we all know and love. The team quickly rattled off four wins and three draws, showing scoring might and defensive solidarity along the way. 13 goals were scored in all and only five were allowed. It doesn't take Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho's mind to realize that's pretty darn good.
It seemed like nobody could stop the league's hottest team, because nobody could.
May 31, 2015 - Down Goes Goodman:
Yes, New England drew the LA Galaxy, 2-2, on this day, but that's not the point. Just as things were going up, they fell hard.
Midway through downpours at Gillette, Jermaine Jones went down without contact and the team's confidence took a major, major hit in the process. It was only one game, but it was also the sign of an ominous future while a prized Designated Player faced upwards of two months on the sideline.
It would all be okay in the end, but sometimes you just have to let the tears out.
June to Mid-July 2015 - The Summer Slump:
The summer slump came and put a giant damper on the campaign. There's no two ways about it: the Revs were flat out bad and lost five straight at one point.
They beat the Chicago Fire, 2-0, on June 13, but also crashed out of the Open Cup to the Charlotte Independence. Then they got dismantled at Red Bull Arena and in Dallas, sinking them deeper and deeper into the Eastern Conference abyss. Fans justifiably got angry, pissed, upset, frustrated, whatever you want to call it.
Results weren't coming, the team honestly wasn't playing all that bad and a summer signing wasn't imminent.
Mid-July to Mid-September 2015 - Rock and Roll
If there's one thing Revs fans know, it's that you never quite know what to expect from the boys in red, white and blue. They can be bottom of the league one month and then on an absolute tear the next. That's exactly what happened in the latter stages of the summer.
A losing streak quickly became a eight-game unbeaten streak, and the Revs were the hottest team in the league. Playoffs were several months away, but one would be foolish to bet against New England's scorching form.
Wait, there was a losing streak just a month ago? Who cares! We're going to win MLS Cup now!
Sept. 19 to Oct. 17, 2015 - So Close, Yet So Far
The winning streak inevitably ended, as the law of averages was going to catch up with New England in due time. Nobody quite anticipated the end of the season unfolding like this, though.
Without going through every scenario, the Revs pretty much just had to win a game or two to clinch a playoff berth. However, as this team tends to do, they didn't make it easy on themselves. They lost twice to Montreal, fell to Chicago and drew the Philadelphia Union. Those four games were all winnable and one could sense the disappointment on the pitch.
The playoffs were within reach every week, but one step forward was always followed by two steps back.
Oct. 25, 2015 - Playoffs At Last
After coming so close for nearly a month, the Revs clinched a playoff berth on the regular season's last day. It came via a 3-1 win at Yankee Stadium, and New England put in a thorough performance.
It wasn't always pretty, but all that mattered was Heaps' team was in the playoff door. It was time to buckle up, put together a run and march towards MLS Cup.
Oct. 28, 2015 - That's All She Wrote, Folks
Pegged against DC United at RFK Stadium, there was legitimate reason to believe New England could win their first playoff game. DC was also slumping and then Juan Agudelo pulled off an out-of-this-world bicycle kick golazo. Yet, the wheels fell off.
Ben Olsen's team scored two goals, Jermaine Jones almost took of Mark Geiger's head over a non-PK call and the playoff dream was before it truly began. It wasn't supposed to end this way, it just wasn't. However, fate deals its hand sometimes and that's out of anyone's control.
Who knows what 2016 has in store for the New England Revolution. More sadness? More awe-inspiring wins and strikes? A more consistent season?
We'll know those answers in the coming months, but being a Revs fan surely is a rollercoaster of emotions.