Boston is becoming a soccer town and it has just as much to do with the Boston Red Sox as it does the New England Revolution. How, you may ask? Well, if you didn’t already know, Fenway Sports Group, the owners of the Red Sox, purchased Liverpool Football Club in 2010. Since acquiring ownership of Liverpool, the six-time champions of Europe have played three games at Fenway Park, with the fan base in the United States, and New England in particular, growing each time. After a sellout crowd at Fenway Park last week against Sevilla FC consisting of mainly Liverpool fans, it’s clear Liverpool is the club of choice for many in Boston and throughout New England - just look at the video below of the club’s famous anthem being sang at Fenway. It’s great for soccer in New England but presents an even greater opportunity for the Revolution.
The mentality of the Revolution has certainly changed on the pitch; undefeated in their last 11 games and having fun while doing it, the team should be motivated to do more than just make the playoffs under Bruce Arena. But off the pitch, the Revolution still show a lot of room for improvement. After a number of disappointing seasons, a less than ideal stadium location and lack of star power in recent years, it’s natural for an MLS team to struggle for attendance. The Revolution are currently third to last in attendance, averaging 14,026 in attendance per game, according to soccerstadiumdigest.com.
As the problems on the field seem to have been solved, the Revolution would be wise to make moves within the next couple years that involve Liverpool to grow the fan base and boost attendance. While it would be nice, this doesn’t mean prying away Mohammed Salah or Virgil Van Dijk from Liverpool, the involvement could come in a number of ways. It could be similar to the partnership the Revolution had with Sporting CP in Portugal (but hopefully more beneficial), which could lead to potential signings and loans or something as simple as friendlies against one another.
You may recall that the partnership with Sporting CP didn’t live up to the hype. The one player to come out of it, Sambinha - a Portuguese center-back - played a whopping 91 minutes over two matches. That’s not what the Revolution want to happen again. After strengthening in attack with big-money moves for attacking midfielder, Carles Gil and club-record, Gustavo Bou, the Revolution should look at these four players to strengthen their midfield and defense.
Ovie Ejaria - At only 21-years old, the midfielder has only made a few first team appearances for Liverpool and has had loans to Sunderland, Reading FC, and Rangers in the Scottish Premier League. Rumored for a permanent move away from Liverpool, the creative player could potentially be available on a loan or for around the $3 million mark.
Ki-Jana Hoever - At 17-years of age, the defender who can operate at center or fullback, probably won’t feature normally in the Liverpool first team for at least two more years. Having featured regularly for the Liverpool U23 squad and making a first-team appearance for Liverpool in the FA Cup against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Hoever could hone his ability in the central of defense or challenge Brandon Bye at right-back on loan with the Revolution for a season.
Pedro Chirivella - Chirivella is a talented midfielder who can operate as a deep-lying midfielder or box-to-box, with his playing style being compared to an all-time legendary midfielder, Xavi of Barcelona FC and Spain. This may not be as likely as the previous two players with clubs in Spain having shown interest in the Spaniard but the 22-year would be a welcome fit to the Revolution midfield if Liverpool were willing to let him go on loan one more season.
James Milner - This is a move that wouldn’t transpire for at least a couple more seasons. Although the English midfielder is 33-years of age, Milner’s still in top physical shape but will probably not be able to continue at a top club in Europe after he leaves Liverpool. It’s likely that Milner will stay in England but if the Revolution could tempt him to sign in two to three years time, it will bring a lot of Premier League fans to Gillette.
Signing such players from Liverpool gives fans in New England an extra incentive to come watch the Revolution. The opportunity to see a future key player or a former old player regularly is a temping option and surely fans would buy into it. Sure, maybe they’re not coming primarily to see the Revolution at first, but that’s where the product on the field persuades them into becoming a loyal supporter of both the Revolution and Liverpool.
The chances of a partnership between the two clubs is close to none but it doesn’t need to be an official partnership. The Revolution can still target current and former Liverpool players in the transfer market in years to come. As Liverpool is a top club filled with talent from goalkeepers to attackers, playing time will be hard to come by for young or fringe players. It would only make sense for the Revolution to try and capitalize on this to reach a whole new market of soccer fans in New England.
For example, last year when the Los Angeles Galaxy and Zlatan Ibrahimovic came to Gillette, there were 35,000 plus fans in attendance. The 2018 average attendance was only 18,347, so while there were many fans there to watch a game against one of the biggest MLS teams historically, the spike in attendance was largely due to a marquee player such as Ibrahimovic. Luckily for the Revolution, they don’t need to splash the cash on a player like Ibrahimovic and can opt for the cheaper (in some sense) route with a player of any quality from Liverpool.
The Revolution have two exciting talents in designated players Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou that will have a great influence on the Revolution becoming MLS cup contenders in the years to come. Although these are two great pieces to have, the club should stay hungry and build off them. The Revolution don’t need a marquee player like Ibrahimovic or Wayne Rooney. All they need are players to come in and help convince the rest of New England to check out the Revolution. If that means identifying players on the transfer market with links to Liverpool, then why not?
What we do know is that regardless of what happens, the club is destined for a bright future under Arena, and Revolution fans should be excited for what’s to come. Tell us below in the comments who your dream Revolution partnership and/or incoming transfer/loan player would be, realistic or unrealistic.