It may seem odd for the New England Revolution to introduce a new crest ahead of the MLS playoffs, but I believe it’s perfect timing.
Although the team announced a new crest on Thursday, the Revs will continue to wear their beloved Crayon Flag for the rest of the season. The original mark deserves one last chance at winning an MLS Cup but the new crest deserves the showcase it will get on Sunday.
This weekend’s game against Miami FC is expected to be a celebration of a record-setting season. The Revs will hoist their first-ever Supporters’ Shield in front of a large crowd who will be waving the free flags they were given at the gate. It could be a beautiful symbol that this is a new era for the Revs organization.
The five-time MLS Cup participants have never walked away with the ultimate prize. As such, they’ve been labeled as the Buffalo Bills of MLS. Perhaps worse is that they’ve constantly been looked at as a little brother to the Kraft’s NFL venture, the Patriots.
Recent years, though, have brought a sea change to the organization. They built a world-class training facility. They added a lower-division team in Revs II. And they finally pulled the trigger and rostered three full Designated Players. It’s no coincidence that they just set the league’s single-season points record.
In short, they’ve entered the upper echelon of the league.
The process of the rebranding—which was never guaranteed to happen—began in 2019, when Bruce Arena became the club’s sporting director and head coach. Arena has been instrumental in the Revs’ growth by building a well-rounded roster and racking up wins. He’s helped the club shed some of its negative publicity, making it a more desirable destination for players.
While the last few years have brought a lot of change, it’s important to recognize the influence of other parties.
Stevie Nicol had an eye for talent and brought the club to four MLS Cup finals. Jay Heaps added professionalism and modernity by utilizing tape analysis and focusing on a more complete approach to fitness, which included fighting for a Revs-specific weight room. He also helped convince ownership to ink Jermaine Jones. Brad Friedel tried and failed to bring a European feel to the Revs, but he did sign Carles Gil, who may go down as the best player in Revs history by the time he is done.
It’s harder to assess executives because we don’t exactly know their successes and failures. Brian Bilello is still with the club after joining in 2003, a sign that higher-ups like what he offers. The controversial Michael Burns was present for four MLS Cups, and you have to wonder what his legacy would be if he had at least one ring.
While others have certainly brought change and success, things feel different now. The club has collected their first-ever Supporters’ Shield and are driven to win the elusive MLS Cup.
That alone isn’t worthy of a rebrand, though. The rebrand needed to be a sign that the club is committed to maintaining sustained success. Consider the Revs’ 2014 MLS Cup run in which they narrowly lost to the LA Galaxy. That run was great, but the club failed to build on it.
It does feel like the club is now set up for prolonged success. The Revs currently have three Designated Players, a policy that’s likely to continue even if someone leaves. The second team has been used to develop talent, as seen with Jon Bell and Maciel. The roster is deeper than we’ve seen in the past.
There’s still work to be done and that will always be the case until the Revs are playing in an urban soccer specific stadium.
Still, it feels like the Revs organization is taking a new approach. If this truly is a new era for the Revolution, and if a rebrand was always going to happen at some point, then the time to make the move is now.
So sit back and enjoy Sunday’s celebration.