Monday, June 29, 2009

Limited Rosters, Limited Interest

During this past off-season, the powers that be in MLS decided to rethink the reserve system, and roster sizes. Coaches and GM's around the league were quite pleased with this, because there were some inherent flaws with the reserve system. They also voted to reduce rosters sizes to 18 senior players, plus 4 developmental players. This decision helped GM's better manage the talent on their roster, and It also allowed them to disperse cash better (within the salary cap) amongst the players on their roster. Theoretically, a 2.5 million dollar cap would bring you better quality players in a 24 man roster, than it would for a 28 man roster, simply by how much money could be distributed per player.

What MLS failed to really understand, was how much fixture congestion there is for some teams in MLS, especially the better teams. Before the MLS season even started, Houston had to play two matches in the knockout stages of the CCL. This past week 4 MLS sides began playing SuperLiga (your Revs being one of them). This ensured a minimum of 3 games for the participating clubs. MLS sides also participate in the US Open Cup this week. Then for four other MLS sides, some CCL qualifying matches, and group stages matches are looming on the horizon.

As a Revolution fan, we have seen what these competitions can cost a team. Last season, the teams deep runs in SuperLiga and USOC may have cost them a chance at the Supporters Shield, MLS Cup and the CCL, as the team was decimated with injuries, and fatigue come August and September. While SuperLiga was a novel idea at first, and the US Open Cup has nostalgia, neither put an MLS side in a good situation with their very limited rosters. Just this week, the Revs came into a game with 14 players on their roster for a SuperLiga match. Star players like Shalrie Joseph and Steve Ralston have been sidelined with injuries during these competitions. Even some of our good young players, like Kevin Alston, have been limited to watching from the sidelines.

Admitedly, some of the roster problems cannot be attributed to fixture congestion this season. Gabriel Badilla and Mauricio Castro have both failed to see the field this season, and Twellman and Albright have been in and out of the lineup. But all teams are going to have their injuries throughout the year. It is inevitable in sports that players will miss games. I just find it a bit absurd to ask teams who are limited to just 24 players, to compete in at the very least 34 matches for some teams (not including MLS Cup), and possibly many more for teams in the CCL or who make deep runs in other competitions.

With SuperLiga the problems run even deeper. The previous two seasons, the competition was held in July. This year SUM, in its infinite wisdom, decided to put the competition in the middle of June. At first glance I guess this could make some sense. It wouldn't be in direct competition with the CCL, or USOC. However, anyone that follows soccer in this country would have known that the most important tournament in three years was going on at this very time...and MLS players were playing in it. The fact that SUM, FMF and MLS decided to hold this tournament during the FIFA Confederations Cup, and actually have matches which were scheduled for the same day, just proves how little they actually get it. People may point out that the Brazilian league was playing at the same time, but I don't really care about that. I can almost forgive league games being played at this time, because this is our playing season. While I believe the schedules could be worked around FIFA dates, that is another discussion entirely. For SUM to schedule SuperLiga during this time, is an absolute joke.

I did not attend yesterdays Revs/Atlas clash. Why? Because I was busy living through the post mortem of a crushing loss to Brazil. The thought of driving down to Foxboro to watch this game never even crossed my mind. I was almost insulted that SUM had scheduled at SuperLiga match on the same day that our country was playing in its first ever FIFA tournament final.

With the ignorance of SUM, and the limited roster sizes, it is no wonder interest in this tournament has waned. Attendance for these matches has been laughable at best, and if not for the efforts of people in supporters sections and hardcore fans, I doubt anyone would even notice people in the crowds.

Let us call SuperLiga for what it really is, a cash grab. SUM wanted to capitolize on the Beckham mania, and try to endear itself to the Mexican community within the US. The first season, the tournament was a rousing success. CONCACAF had still yet to really get its act together by creating a quality intraconfederation tournament. I will even give SUM credit for almost forcing CONCACAF's hand to create the CCL last year. Attendances were high, and the atmosphere was electric. Even the quality of soccer was very high. Then last year we saw some of the inherent flaws in the tournament. Mexican sides playing in their preseasons, were more interested in being thugs, than actually playing soccer. Attendances dropped. All games were played within the US. Players got hurt, and missed portions of their league season. The problems were enhanced ten old this season when SUM decided to schedule the tournament during the Confederations Cup.

When you couple the problems of SuperLiga's exsistence and scheduling, with the fixture congestion it causes (along with the Open Cup), then factor in the limited rosters withwhich MLS sides are limited to, and the only road leads to an impending disaster.

The Revs now face an uphill climb in the league, with more games to play than anyone else in the second half of the league, injured star players, and potentially tired legs again coming this season. With that being said, there are something the team can do to get by. It was announced yesterday that the team brought in a player to replace Twellman up top. They still have more work to do, however. It may mean making some tough decisions, and cutting some players before July 1st (which is the date when players contracts become guarranteed for the year). Their roster is still littered with injuries, and if players are not replaced, the coming knockout phase games in the USOC and SuperLiga, plus league matches, could leave this team in a bigger rut than they are presently. I'm not trying to make excuses for this team, as some will know my dismay over how the Revs handle their roster each season, but these extra competitions could end up costing this team, as it did last season.

MLS needs to rethink how it allows its teams to structure its rosters. With the collective bargaining talks looming, one hopes that both sides can come to an agreement which helps the teams become profitable, but also increases cap spending and roster sizes, to ensure quality, and allow MLS sides to compete in a worthy competition like the CCL.

Glory Glory Revolution!

Player Signed: Edgaras Jankauskas

According to a Kyle McCarthy (, Boston Herald, The Revs have agreed to a contract with 34 year old Lithuanian striker, Edgaras Jankauskas. He now awaits visa and ITC approval before he can join the team. Terms of the deal have yet to be announced. Also, it is unclear how they will free up a Senior International slot on their roster. It was announced last week that Twellman would hit the DL for about two months, but the vacancy left by that move would still leave the roster without an open SI slot. So, we expect more moves or announcements regarding the roster to come soon.

Jankauskas is a towering figure, and a powerful striker (coming in at 6'4"). He began his career by playing for his hometown club FK Zalgiris, of Vilnius, Lithuania. He quickly made a name for himself in his native country, by scoring 41 goals in 93 matches, all by the age of 21. Edgaras then spent the next few years hoping around clubs in Russia (Torpedo, CSKA Moscow), Belgium (FC Bruges), and Spain (Real Sociadad). After his first season in Spain, he was loaned out to Portuguese club Benfica. He only spent one season on loan to Benfica, but it was enough to then Porto Manager, Jose Morinho, to notice him, and sign him from Sociadad.

During his time with Porto, under Morinho, Jankauskas saw a mixed bag of success. He was a part of domestic cup winnings sides, and even the 2004 UEFA Champions League winners. However, during the 2003 season, Edgaras was left out of the final for UEFA Cup winning team.

Jankauskas then spent the next few seasons trying to get into regular team play in various other clubs (OGC Nice, Hearts, Kaunas, Belenenses. to name a few) before trialing with the Revs earlier this month.

Jankauskas is known for his power, and with a clear lack of striker options, he may be just what the Revs need to sustain possession, and threaten on attack. Without Twellman in the lineup, the team lacks a player who can hold the ball up in possession, and power his way through the box. The move will allow Nicol to move Joseph and/or Ralston back where they belong, in the midfield.

Admitedly, I have only seen Jankauskas play in 1 or 2 matches, and a few youtube clips, but this signing brings more hope to me than excpectation. The Revs have had a definitive problem at striker over the last two seasons. As a supporter of the club, I hope EJ works out, and can help be one of, if not the missing piece the Revs need right now. The Revs have had trouble finding quality SI strikers in the past (Abundus, Sunsing, Diallo, Fernandez etc...). Let's hope that changes with Edgaras, and he can help bring us back to the top of the table, and bring home our first MLS Cup!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rev Links


Injury-plagued New England Revolution face Kansas City Wizards in SuperLiga doubleheader
L.E. Eisenmenger

Revolution can't count on numbers edge
Kyle McCarthy

Episodio 9 - El Medianoche Viaje
The Midnight Ride

Broadcast Booth Bits - The Blue Laguna

Brad Feldman

Also, Jonathan Kraft and Don Garber will be on Dale and Holley today on WEEI. Check it out, and hopefully they will talk more about the Revs, and less about the Patriots. I'm not holding my breath however.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

USL/NPSL Update 6/23

New England area lower division updates

Tier 3 - USL Second Division:

Western Mass Pioneers - Last Tuesday the Pioneers were bounced from the US Open Cup after losing a second round match-up to league rivals Harrisburg. The match was decided in penalties (4-3 to Harrisburg) after 120 minutes of the match went scoreless. The loss prevents the Pioneers from facing in state rival New England Revolution for the second straight year of the US Open Cup.

In league play the Pioneers tried to bunch back from their USOC exit. They again had trouble finding the back of the net, and were held to a nil-nil draw at home to Pittsburgh. The draw leaves them 6th in the table, on 14 points from 11 matches, and 8 points back of leaders Harrisburg.

Next League Match:
Sat. June 27th Pioneers @ Bermuda

Tier 4 - USL PDL:

Rhode Island Stingrays - Rhode Island bounced back to score 3 against Newark, in a 3-1 win. The win keeps them 6th in the table, on 11 points from 10 matches, and 17 points back of league leadering Long Island.

Next Games:
Sat. June 27th Stingrays @ Ocean City

New Hampshire Phantoms - New Hampsire dropped their midweek clash with Ottawa up in the Canadian capitol. The loss puts New Hampshire firmly at the bottom of the table on 5 points from 10 matches.

Next Game:
Tue. June 17th New Hampshire vs Brooklyn - Southern New Hampsire University - 7:30pm

Tier 4 - NPSL:

Boston Aztec - Drew with New England rivals Maine Sting 2-2. The draw keeps them top of the table.

Next Game:
Sun. June 28th Boston vs. New York AC @ Amesbury Sports Complex

Maine Sting - Drew with New England rivals Boston Aztec 2-2. The draw moves them into second place in the standings.

Next Game:
Fri. July 3rd Maine vs Long Island

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New England Soccer History: Part 2

...continued from part 1.

Turn of the Century:

As the century turned over, so did the many leagues in the New England area. Although the area was a hotbed of soccer at the time, it had a hard time keeping continuous teams and leagues afloat. Immigrant populations began to turn over generations as well, and with that came desire to gravitate towards American created sports, most notably baseball. The desire for immigrant populations, and especially their children, to become more 'American' left the game constantly needing to rely on new immigrant populations to feed the game. Of course the Southern New England area was booming with immigrants at the time, due to industry, so the turn over was quite quick, and helped fuel the love of the game year after year. This infatuation with becoming more 'American' didn't undermine the importance of soccer in the region at the time, but rather stunt the long term growth. Still, the area was poised to help justify it
's name as soccer's Golden Triangle.

With the new century came the countries first true professional league. The American League of Professional Football was very short lived, only lasting a season. However, the league was important, because it showed the hunger for a professionally organized game in the country. The six team league comprised of teams from the Northeast, included a team associated with National League Baseball team from Boston. The Boston Beaneaters were the forebears of the Boston Braves, which now reside in Atlanta, with the same nickname. Immigration issues cut short the life of the league, as t
eams were accused of illegally employing players from the British isles, who were not proper U.S. citizens. The pressure caused the league to fold after just one season of play, in 1894.

For about 12 years following the collapse of the APFL, the game remained entirely amateur in this country. Teams like the Fall River Rovers, Howard & Bullough F
.C. (Pawtuckett, R.I.) and various predicessors to New Bedford F.C. (which later became New Bedford Whalers) had endured years of league changes, and amateur style football until the formation of the Southern New England Soccer League.

The rival league at the time, the National Association Foot Ball league had also sprung up around that time. The league included a few Boston teams such as Bunker Hill F.C., and Essex County F.C. This league also included a team which would soon become the greatest rival to the New England areas dominance, Bethlehem Steel F.C. N
either of the Boston teams ever won the league.

The Fall River Rovers were still among the best teams at the time. They carried their American Cup success over to the National Challenge Cup (which is known today as the US Open Cup). They reached three consecutive finals, between 1916 and 1918.
However, they managed just one trophy, in 1917. The Rovers were met in the finals all three years by legendary Pennsylvania club, Bethlehem Steel F.C. The first meeting of the two clubs (1916) would cement this rivalry as maybe the most fierce in the United States. The hotly contested Cup Final was one of the first indications of fan violence in the region. The game controversially ended with a penalty being awarded to Bethlehem late in the match. Near the conclusion of the game, another controversial call went against the rovers, and a pitch invasion ensued. Tensions between these two clubs were also heightened by nationalistic ideals and pride. The Rovers were made up almost entirely of locally born players from the, where as Bethlehem was a club with a heavy British influence.

The 1917 National Challenge Cup Final saw the Rovers exact revenge from the game of the previous year. They beat Bethlehem 1-0 on an early goal. In 1918 Rovers and Bethlehem would play the rubber match of their cup rivalry. This time the game fittingly was tied after regulation. In those days overtime was not a part of the rules of the game, and a replay of the match was scheduled. Bethlehem handled Fall River in the replay, 3-0. This would be the last time the two teams would meet, and although they only met 3 times, the rivalry had become something of a legend that would unite the two soccer hotbeds as rivals throughout the next decade.

During their time the Fall River Rovers (1884-1921) saw impr
essive amounts of success. Two American Cups (1884,1889), one National Challenge Cup (1917), winners of the New England League in 1909, and a league cup in 1917.

Another dominant team in the Southern New England Soccer League was the New Bedford Whalers. The winners of the first two league titles in 1915, and 1917 (no champion was crowned in 1916). This team would only last a few seasons, before coming back again in the next decade. They two had a rivalry with the Rovers. Local star Thomas Swords, and U.S. International player, moved from New Bedford back to Fall River
after just one season, sparking a fierce rivalry, as it shifted the fortunes of the two clubs.

J & P Coats (Pawtuckett, R.I.) won in 1918. The next season the league would take two seasons off due to World War I. When the league resumed play in 1921, Fore River of Quincy, Ma. won it’s first title. They had been robbed of a title in 1916, when the league was shut down due to financial reasons, even though they were leading the league at the time.

ASL Beginings: By 1921 the game of soccer was growing in popularity, and in the Northeast it was probably only less popular than baseball. It was time for organizers to develop a real national league. The rivalries between clubs in the two main leagu
es at the time, the Southern New England Soccer League, and the National Association Foot Ball league had paved the way for a league that spanned over a larger regional foot print. In 1921 the American Soccer League (ASL) was formed, and most of the most dominant teams from the NAFBL and the SNESL joined to form the new national league.

In the 1921/22 season, only J & P Coats moved over from the SNESL. The SNESL had folded at the conclusion of the 1921 season, and so some of the other teams collapsed. With the collapse of these clubs, came the births of a few new clubs. H
olyoke Falcos (from Holyoke, Ma.), joined J & P in the leagues inaugural season. The other teams in the league were also mainly from the Tri-State area. A team not mentioned though, was also a local team. This team would become truly legendary, and would carry on the great traditions of New England soccer, especially that of the Fall River area. In 1921, after their predecessors the Fall River Rovers disbanded with the collapse of the SNESL, Fall River United formed. This club formed with a lot of the same players and management of the Rovers, but were a different organization entirely. Though United’s first season in the ASL was rather bleak, it would not be a sign of things to come, as this would become one of, if not the signature clubs of the American Soccer League. After that first season, the club was purchased by Sam Mark, who quickly changed the name of the team to represent his own namesake. The club would now be known as the Fall River Marksmen, and they would go on to dominate the next decade of American Soccer.

It would be irresponsible of me to not dedicate an entire section of this multipart piece to that of the Marksmen. They are too important for this area, and even the entire country, for me to just mention them in passing. With that being said, I guess this will be a sort of teaser heading into our rather lengthy next part which will be almost entirely dedicated to the Marksmen and the old ASL.

Until then, check out our friends at Bump Pitch, and the cool shirts they created to keep the heritage of US Soccer alive. There are a few shirts of old ASL teams, and most notably, the Marksmen.
Go to their website to check them out

Again, don't forget to check out the great archives at and help preserve our heritage.

Glory Glory New England!

USL/NPSL Update 6/16

New England area lower division updates

Tier 3 - USL Second Division:

Western Mass Pioneers - The Pioneers kept up their good form this weekend, with a 2-0 win over the Charlotte Eagles at Lusitano Stadium. First half substitute Almir Barbosa had a brace, and helped carry the Pioneers toward their 4th league victory in a row. Revolution midfielder continued his loan spell at Western Mass. by putting in another full 90, and a couple of shots for the Pioneers. Keeper James Thorpe recorded his 2nd shut out in as many weeks. With the current run of good form, the Pioneers have slowly creeped up the table, and now sit in 6th spot, and still just 6 points off the leaders Harrisburg (whom they play in USOC action tonight).

The Pioneers have an important US Open Cup match tonight at 7pm down in Harrisburg PA. The winner of the match goes on to face our New England Revolution on the 30th of June.

Next League Match:
Sat. June 20th Pioneers vs Pittsburgh @ Lusitano Stadium - 7pm

Next US Open Cup Match:
Tonight @ 7pm vs Harrisburg

Tier 4 - USL PDL:

Rhode Island Stingrays - Rhode Island had a disappointing weekend with only 1 point from 2 games. On Saturday the Stingrays lost 3-1 to Long Island. Then on Sunday they tied Westchester 1-1.

Next Games:
Sat. June 20th Stingrays vs. Newark @ Rhode Island College 7pm

New Hampshire Phantoms - New Hampshire played New Jersey to a 1-1 draw, and still sit at the bottom of the table, tied with New Jersey.

Next Game:
Tue. June 16th New Hampshire @ Ottawa - Algonquin Soccer Complex - 6pm

Tier 4 - NPSL:

Boston Aztec - Boston continues it's early season dominance with a 1-0 victory over Long Island AFC. The win helps keep the Aztec top of the table, on 12 points in 5 matches.

Next Game:
Sat. June 20th Boston @ Maine

Maine Sting - Maine had a busy weekend, with 3 matches in 4 days. Maine took 4 points on the weekend. In the first game last Thursday Maine 2-2 with Long Island AFC. Then on Friday the Sting fell 5-1 to Morris County. Maine finished up the busy weekend with a 1-0 win over New York, which helped secure them in second spot of the table on 7 points in 5 matches.

Next Game:
Sat. June 20th Maine vs Boston

It was a mixed bag for New England area teams this past weekend. If you are looking to watch some good local soccer, definitely check out these clubs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

USL/NPSL Update 6/10

New England area lower division updates

Tier 3 - USL Second Division:

Western Mass Pioneers - The Pioneers finished up a busy week last night in the US Open Cup, where they took down local amateur side Emigrantes Das Ilhas 3-2 in extra time. The win last night moves them on to a second round match-up @ Harrisburg City Islanders next Tuesday (June 16th). Earlier in the weekend the Pioneers played two games against DC Area rivals Crystal Palace Baltimore, and Real Maryland. On Friday night the Pioneers took care of Baltimore 2-1, and then the following day beat Maryland 2-0. Both matches were played at Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, Ma. The two wins in the league help the Pioneers move out of the bottom of the table, and leave them just 6 points out of the top spot in the league.

Saturdays game vs. Maryland saw some reinforcements come to help out the team. Revolution players, and local New Englanders, Nico Colaluca and Michael Vidiera were both loaned out to the Pioneers for the weekend. Both players put in a full 90 minutes, and Videira netted one of Western Mass' 2 goals on the match.

Next League Match:
Sat. June 13th Pioneers vs Charlotte @ Lusitano Stadium, Ludlow Ma.

Next US Open Cup Match:
Tue. June 16th Pioneers @ Harrisburg City Islanders

Tier 4 - USL PDL:

Rhode Island Stingrays - Rhode Island took down Brooklyn 2-0 on Saturday, and moved up to 6th in the table on 7 points in 7 matches.

Next Games:
Sat. June 13th Stingrays vs. Long Island @ Rhode Island College 7pm
Sun. June 14th Stingrays @ Westchester - McKenna Field 5:30

New Hampshire Phantoms - The Phantoms won 1-0 at home vs Westchester this weekend, but still sit bottom of the table on 4 points through 8 matches.

Next Game:
Sat June 13th New Hampshire @ New Jersey - Morris Catholic High School

Tier 4 - NPSL:

Boston Aztec - Boston beat Morris County 4-1 on Saturday and retained their spot atop the NPSL Atlantic Conference table.

Next Game:
Sun. June 14th Boston vs. Long Island AFC

Maine Sting - Also beat Morris County, 2-0. They currently sit middle of the table.

Next Games:
Thur. June 11th @ Long Island AFC
Fri. June 12th @ Morris County
Sun. June 14th @ New York AC

With the Revs off this weekend, it is a good time to go check out your other local area clubs!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New England Soccer History: Part 1

As mentioned before, we have been working on a piece to help bring the heritage of this game back to it's fans in New England. This area has a rich soccer history, which dates back to the origins of not only the game in this country, but also the development of the actual game itself. Soccer in this country has had a rough time mostly because of stigma's that are not justified. People believe the sport to be new and invasive. When in reality it has been here as long, and in most cases longer, than the sports we have adopted as our national birthrights. The games biggest rival in this country, or at least the fans who push it back the most, are usually American Football fans. The irony here is that the two sports were essentially born from the same game, and if not for evolution, would still be the same game. Separated only by a fork in the road, a sort of national condemnation has taken place by American Football fans trying and resist this game of Soccer.

We are not the first who want to bring this history back to the fans. Others have written, and researched these topics before. We just want to be another outlet for you fans to be able to access the information. The biggest problem this game ever faced was organization (or lack thereof) and the broken continuation of the evolution of the game. The sport has endured hundred of broken leagues, thousands of defunct teams and a sporting culture that has intentionally resisted it as something foreign, for decades. There are those in the media and fans who wonder when the game will "arrive." Well the game arrived a century and a half ago, and it never left. We as fans just need to understand our history, especially if the powers that be in this country don't want to help us.

Origins of New England Soccer:
Where and when the game of football (soccer) actually began is a topic for hot debate. While trying to steer clear of the actual origin of the game, we are going to do a quick run through of it's early days. We aren't going to get into the rehashed explanation of the origins of football from ancient Rome to Victorian England and beyond. Instead we are going to pick up where the game matters most to in New England.

Just prior to the start of the American Civil War, a Boston area sports club was born, and played a major role in the birth and evolution of the game in this country. The Oneida Foot Ball Club was formed in 1861. The club played a form game that has been debated for years. What cannot be debated, is that the club was one of the first (if not the first) organized club in this country to play a form of football. Both Association Football supporters, and American football supporters claim the team as their own. What is certain is that the team played an early form of the game of football.

The story behind this club is as foggy as the style of football in which the organized themselves. There are stories which live as almost folklore. During their existence, the club played their games on the Boston Common, against local area college clubs. The legend has it that the team was rarely, if ever defeated. Today there is a plaque on the common which commemorates the team, and claims that the team was never even scored upon during their time (1862-1865). Of course there are no official records of game results, so claim will stand as a legend which we may never truly understand. It is believed that the club was disbanded as the American Civil war began to boil over in 1865.

During the war, the game of football, in one of its various forms, began to flourish at the collegiate level. As the game itself evolved into its many forms (Association Football, American Football, Rugby Football, Gaelic Football etc...), the city of Boston, and area of New England were at the forefront of all this development. The game(s) was vastly influenced both here, and in the UK, by collegiate athletes. Yale University in Connecticut is said to have adopted the English style rules of the game we now know as Association Football, or soccer. However, with their growing rivalry with Harvard University, Yale was convinced to play a sort of hybrid style one-off game which resembled both soccer and rugby. Yale ultimately lost the match, and decided to adopt the Rugby style rules to become more competitive with their New England Rivals. This was said the be the pivotal moment in the direction of soccer in this country. Soon the collegiate game became almost entirely rugby style carry ball, and then later gridiron football.

The fate of the game in this country seemed to be decided. However, soon after soccer’s death at the college level, the game was quickly picked up by other locals. By the 1880’s the game was fully revived again, in another grassroots incarnation. This time rather than being a game of rich college kids, the teams and leagues were born on the backs of working class immigrants, mostly French and Irish. American football remained popular at the collegiate ranks, and especially in the Midwest. But here in the Northeast, Association Football ruled amongst the people. Urban areas like Boston, New York, Southeastern Mass/Providence, Northern New Jersey and Eastern PA. were the original hotbeds of the game of soccer.

At this time the city of Fall River, Ma. had began to boom, mostly due to the textile industry. With the industrial economic boom came many working class immigrants into the city and surrounding area. These immigrants began to form local sporting clubs which adopted the game of modern Association Football. Working class workers would work throughout the week, and then blow off steam on the football pitch on Saturdays throughout the region. Fall River Rovers were only one of a number of clubs formed by these working class immigrants at this time. They were the areas most dominant team. Other teams in the city included the Fall River East Ends, Fall River Olympics and the Fall River Pan Americans. Teams from Boston, New Bedford and Providence were also competitive at this time.

Fall River, New Bedford, Providence...The Golden Triangle, or so it is refered to now. This area of the country was the original hotbed of soccer in this country. Leading up to the turn of the century, this area was football mad. During this time, American soccer began to become a bit more organized nationally. The formation of the American Cup, in 1885, paved the way for the first club national championships. The competition was created by the American Amateur Football Association (AAFA). The Fall River Rovers and Fall River East Ends each won two of these titles, and Pawtucket Free Wanderers, Pawtucket Olympics, and the Fall River Olympics each won 1 cup. This early dominance by the region put the Golden Triangle on the map of the soccer world in the U.S. and even overseas.

From there, the organized game quickly evolved. Although leagues came and went as quickly as the years turned over, it was evident that there was a growing interest for the game in the region. The Golden Triangle region would begin to really asserts its dominance in the sport as the 20th century came around. to be continued...

Much of what has been written here, has been written before, and researched by many others. We have taken elements and research from a number of places, and tried to make them a more New England centric, and condensed version for the fans to understand. If you wish to delve deeper into the rich history of the sport in this country, we suggest checking out David A. Litterer at the American Soccer History Archives. The information provided there is top notch, and very detailed. We are in no way trying to steal the research others have done, but rather trying to make it more accessible and condensed for the fans of this region. Litterer also partnered with a few other colleagues to produce a definitive guide to the history of the game in this country rightly called The Encyclopedia of American Soccer History. It really is a must read for those of you who want to know more about the great history of the game in this country.

Our purpose is to help soccer fans understand that they aren't alone, and that they aren't different. Too often in this country soccer fans are miscast as different, or foreign. The game in this country dates back long before basketball, or hockey, and the roots of American Football grow from the same tree as this great game of soccer. Even some soccer officials in this country think the game began in 1996, or others that think the history only dates back to the 1970's. When in reality, this country has been shaped by the game for a century and a half now.

In our next segment we look at the turn of the century, and the first truly professional leagues in this country. We will detail the importance of the Southeastern Region of New England, and especially the teams from Fall River, most notably the Fall River Marksmen. We hope to have the segment finished by this time next week, and will post it as soon as we have it finished.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Milestone Night: Heaps 300; Twellman 100; Reis 50

Eight years ago at this time it would have seemed almost inconceivable that the New England Revolution would become one of the leagues most dominant teams. Throughout the teams first five seasons there was little to get excited about on the field, and that quickly turned to apathy amongst fans.

Prior to the 2001 season the Revs made a move for local boy, and ex-rookie of the year winner, Jay Heaps. Heaps had spent the two seasons prior playing for Wortman and Ray Hudson in Miami, before he was traded to the Revs for Brian Dunseth. Heaps had compiled 73 games for the Fusion in those 2 short years, and was quickly making a name for himself as a good young defender in the league. Heaps had always showed promise, and was always considered one of American soccer's best athletes. A basketball player at Coach K's famous Duke program, Heaps had every right to be considered a great athlete.

The 2001 season was a disappointment, however. The team again failed to qualify for MLS Cup under Clavijo, and continued their less than mediocre perception within MLS. They did make it to the US Open Cup final, but were defeated by the LA Galaxy. That 2001 season would change everything, though. Heaps former club, the Miami Fusion, were in dire straights, and the league decided to contract them (as well as their cross state rivals Tampa Bay). With the contraction came a dispersal and allocation draft, and the beginning of a new era in New England. That off season they acquired Steve Ralston through the allocation draft, from Tampa Bay. They also drafted young Taylor Twellman, and Shalrie Joseph in the first and second rounds (respectively) of the 2002 MLS Superdraft. A year later, the team acquired Matt Reis for a draft pick from the LA Galaxy.

Fast forward to yesterday. Entering the game Heaps was sitting on 299 games played in MLS, Twellman was on 99 goals, and Reis had compiled 49 shutouts. The first milestone was assured before the game began, as it was not a question whether Nicol would select Heaps for the starting XI.

Heaps was not only selected by Nicol for the match (as expected), but was honored before the match by coach Nicol, and owner Bob Kraft. Nicol further honored the 32 year old defender by making him captain of the match. Heaps played maybe his best game of the season locking down the left side of the field, and netting what was ultimately the game winning goal in stoppage time of the first half. Heaps then quickly helped the Revs pull away from the game, when he worked hard in the left hand corner, won back a ball from a defender, then found Steve Ralston on the back post to make the game 2-0.

In true fashion, this Revs team reached milestones together, as a team whose core has been together since their sort of reincarnation following the 2001 season. Legendary striker Taylor Twellman quickly added a goal in the 57th minute, on a ball from Shalrie Joseph, to make it 100 goals in his MLS career. Twellman sprinted over to the bench and gave coaches Nicol and Mariner a huge as he celebrated his milestone goal. Twellman wasn't finished, and finished another chance when Steve Ralston slid a ball his way inside of 12 yards, where Twellman took a touch, and slid the ball under Red Bulls keeper Conway in the 64th minute.

At this point, the game had basically been decided. The Revs still had one more milestone to reach though. They needed to help their keeper tally his 50th shutout of his MLS career. When the final whistle blew, just a few minutes into stoppage time, Reis became the third member of the Revs on the night to reach an important milestone. His 50th shutout came on a night where he had to make just 3 saves, but the accomplishment is still incredible.

Heaps, Twellman and Reis all reached their milestones, as long time teammates Shalrie Joseph and Steve Ralston helped them as the 5 have done together for quite a long time. Though this group has yet to win an MLS Cup, it is clear that they love playing with and for one another. Together they have been one of the era's most dominant teams in MLS, and with them all back healthy now, hopefully they can continue that through this season. Though the Red Bulls looked like a disinterested team for much of the game last night, make no mistake that this collection of talent that the Revs have is one of a kind in MLS. Few teams have kept a core this strong together for as long as the Revs have, and they are a challenge for anyone they go up against.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Trade Rumor

We have heard that a player might be on his way out of New England. We are digging right now, and will update as soon as we get more info.

Glory Glory USA!!!!!

Match: USA vs. Costa Rica
Event: World Cup 2010 CONCACAF Qualifier
Where: Saprissa Stadium- San Juan, Costa Rica
Time: 10pm ET
Channel: ESPN2

New England will come together tonight in support of another team, a grander team. We also join our fellow countrymen, and lay down our club allegiances to root on our countries National team.

The American Outlaws Boston Chapter are hosting a viewing party this evening @ the Banshee in Dorchester, Ma.

Whether you are going to a viewing party, watching from your local bar or rooting your country on from your couch it doesn't matter, so long as you are fixed to the TV for the 90+ minutes of the game. Whether you are a 6th generation American, or a recent immigrant into this country it doesn't matter, because we are all Americans. Whether you support the Revolution, the LA Galaxy or Manchester United it doesn't matter, because we are all American soccer fans.

That is what tonight is about. Coming together as countrymen. Coming together as our boys will at 10pmET. Coming together to root them on. Coming together to support our great country.

Prediction: 2-0 to the USA!


here are some great links analyzing in the run up

MLS Talk

Jamie Trekker

Jack Bell

Jason Davis/Matchfit

Beau Dure

Ives Galarcep


New England area lower division updates

Tier 3 - USL Second Division:

Western Mass Pioneers - The Pioneers have had a tough start to the season. They have dropped 5 of their first 7 matches, taken only 4 total points, scored just 3, conceded 12 and currently sit bottom of the table.

Next Game:
Sat. June 6th Pioneers vs Real Maryland @ Lusitano Stadium, Ludlow Ma.

The team also plays Region I qualifier Emigrantes Das Ilhas (Massachusetts) next Tuesday June 9th in the first round of the US Open Cup.

Tier 4 - USL PDL:

Rhode Island Stingrays - Rhode Island currently sits 8th in the table on 4 points through 6 games

Next Game:
Sat. June 6th Rhode Island vs. Brooklyn Knights @ Rhode Island College

New Hampshire Phantoms - New Hampshire currently sit 9th, at the bottom of the Northeast Division. They currently have just 1 point through 7 games.

Next Game:
Sat June 6th New Hampshire vs Westchester Flames @ Southern New Hampshire University

Tier 4 - NPSL:

Boston Aztec - The Aztec are 2-1 on the young season, and sit top of the table on 6 points. Their next game is Saturday, at home, against the Morris County Colonials.

Next Game:
Sat. June 6th Boston vs. Morris County Colonials

Maine Sting - The Sting lost their only game of the season (4-1 to the Aztecs).

Next Game:
Sun. June 7th Maine vs. Morris County Colonials

Check Back in the future for more updates. We would hopefully like to get some correspondents of these local teams to help draw up some match reports, team reports, news etc... If you are interested, please email us at

We may be very Revolution and MLS centric, but we feel it important to support all of our local teams. We want to bring the pride and passion back to the nations original soccer hotbed.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Look at Attendance and Atmosphere

Over the years, all MLS clubs have been under the microscope of those who wish to shoot down its importance to the game in this country. It's detractors will often point to attendance figures, stadium atmosphere, TV ratings metrics to emphasize their points. In the last few seasons two new franchises have made waves with their seemingly rabid fan-bases (Seattle and Toronto, for those living under a rock) emerging from seemingly nowhere. We understand that they didn't just pop up out of thin air, and that a lot of strategic marketing, as well as a thirst for the sport in these two cities, were driving forces in creating such exciting new soccer markets in this country.

During the first few months of this young MLS season, many detractors have voiced loudly their opinions as to why MLS attendance is down. Many of them write off economic conditions, and don't give it as much credence as it deserves. Attendance is down across baseball as well. The NBA and NHL officials are concerned about entering their first full season ticket renewal season under these new economic conditions. 'America's Team' the Dallas Cowboys, are concerned about selling out their overpriced luxury boxes. There is a litany of leagues and teams who are seeing drops in profit and game day attendances. Yet when it comes to MLS, its detractors simply write it off, and focus on the fact that the Revs only got 9k for a cold day in April, or KC can only get 8K into a small venue.

These same detractors also fail to do any research into the actual numbers. The Revs are currently averaging about 11.5K fans throughout their first 4 matches of the season. Which is about 6k less than their final season average of a year ago (which included a Brazil double header, and a Beckhambonanza). Yet through the first 4 games of last season the Revs only averaged about 10.8K fans per game at Gillette.

I'm sure if you went through the league, a number of teams are in similar situations. Some of the northern teams play games in 40-50 degree rainy weather through the months of March and April. Sure Toronto and Seattle set the bar, because they are northern cities, playing in outdoor stadiums, but we should be applauding them, rather than comparing them to other cities. Of course certain markets need to be put on notice, but sometimes people need to look a little deeper into situations before they just blindly start labeling places failed markets

I think a better metric, and although it is a bit subjective to judge, stadium atmosphere is a better way to judge a market and a fan base. Those who look back to the numbers of 96-98 can say that the Revs are a less supported team now, than they were then. Some of that may be true, and some of the original hard core fans were abandoned by the franchises attempt to cater to soccer moms and preteans. However, I truly believe that the atmosphere inside Gillette, especially within the Fort, has never been better. That attitude, and rabid support in and around the Fort is also beginning to spill over throughout the stadium. In years past, if you sat around midfield, it was almost as though you were sitting in church. The occasional hoot and holler was back grounded by 12 year old screaming girls and boys, and silly PA announcements. Now with the efforts of the Revs most ardent supporters, and the cooperation of management, the atmosphere within the stadium seems to be almost infectious.

This past Saturday night was really the first night that the stadium felt alive all season. We could be critical of the first 3 games, and the almost dead feeling in the stadium, and we probably should be. I feel like a lot of that was due to weather, attendance and apathy. The weather here in New England has been dismal for Revs games so far this season. There has also been little to cheer about. Although the team is positioned to make a run, and stole a few points early on in the season, the fans knew the team wasn't playing well. Still the members of the Fort, and the surrounding sections had sounded better than they ever had. I truly believe the crowd helped lift them in the game against Dallas. Although attendance was low, the Fort End of the field was packed, and loud. When Ralston came on after half, the buzz in the stadium increased exponentially. Then when Nyassi netted his goal to level the game, you could feel the air being sucked out of the FC Dallas players, as the Fort end really picked up its team.

Coming into Saturday's game, there was definitely something in the air. People knew that they might be able to see the clubs legendary striker make his first appearance of the season. Then, after a Larentowicz injury early in the match, Twellman was called upon to help save a team that was really holding on by a thread in the game. Once he trotted out on the field, you could almost feel the anticipation within the stadium. It was not a nervous energy either. It was more of a collective wanting to explode. Although DC scored shortly after Twellman entered the game, the fans were not to be denied. The fans within the stadium began to really pick up their efforts, and so did the players on the field. Come the second half, the building was really rocking for the first time in a while.

Throughout this off season, and even in the past few years, it appears the Revs have changed their marketing philosophy. They seem to be engaging the soccer fans of the community, rather than just trying to create younger fans. Some of this may be due to the younger fans they initially targeted growing up, but I think most of it is due to the clubs recognition that those are the types of fans that they need to attract. They have been very active in creating away viewing parties at local Boston pubs. They helped host World Soccer Daily's trip to the Banshee for the UEFA Champions League earlier in the year. Nicol and some players have also made themselves more available to media like WSD, and Planet Mikey on WEEI. The organization has also laxest on some pretty draconian rules within the stadium, and with its security. Allowing Tifo, and other banners, which were nixed in the past. All of this has really helped to make the game day experience within the stadium much more desirable.

The club has not even come close to seeing its full potential in this region, however. When you go to watch a Premier League game at the Banshee or the Landing, you see hundreds of supporters waking up at early hours to go check out the game they love. When you drive around this area, you seem fields, and kids playing this game more than you do any other sport. Barca shirts, Liverpool shirts, Argentina and Brazil national team shirts, as worn throughout the city (and region) of Boston on any given day. Tens of thousands packed bars, City Hall and Hanover Street during the World Cup final (as well as other games during the tournament). People in Boston love this game, and the Revs are their only real option to watch live professional men's football. Some of these fans are the same detractors who ignorantly bash this game, but they have one thing in common with all of us. They LOVE this game. The onus is not just on the club to try and convince these people to watch this team, but I believe it is on us as fans as well. If we ever want this team to be as supported as it can be, we need to reach out to these soccer fans, and try to bring them in. The negative attitude of the past, that they just won't show up no matter, needs to be forgotten. We may not be able to convince all of them at once, and I doubt we ever will, but every small amount that we can will help network to a larger potential fan-base than can come and help lift our team to victory every game day.

We are going to do sporadic updates on attendance and atmosphere within the stadium, throughout the season. We also hope to report on a few of the away game viewings. We would love to hear some suggestions for game day experience ideas, and how to reach out to new fans. Eventually we are going to post supporters songs and chant lyrics on here, once we finally finish developing the new site and layout. We want this to be your stop as a supporter, and help make this team as big as it can possibly be. We think the sky is the limit, so let's get to work.


Twellman Returns; Revs Win

Speculation flew in the early part of the week, as it appeared Taylor Twellman was getting closer to match fitness. As it drew closer to game time, it seemed almost immanent that the star striker would play in his first match of the season against DC. He actually did more than just play in his first match of the season, he changed the game completely.

Still looking for his 100th career MLS goal, the 29 year old Twellman began the night on the bench. There was already a sort of buzz in the air of Gillette just knowing that Twellman was suited up and available for the first time all season. Most fans and media believed Twellman would get a run out, but I don't think anyone knew how quickly he would be called upon to change things.

The game started off very sloppy for the Revs. Fred was running rampant through the middle of the field, and DC saw a few missed chances go by the board. The Revs endured the early onslaught, and held the game nil-nil for the first 35 minutes of the match. Poor possession, though bad giveaways, and impatient distrubution left the Revs backline on their heals throughout the beginning of the match.

In the 25th minute of the game, Twellman made his debut. Jeff Larentowicz had just suffered a concusion, which lead to the early substition, and an opportunity to put Twellman in the game. His impact was felt almost immediately. It had been so long since we had seen him in a game, and we almost forgot what it was like to have a true attacking presence up top. He made incisive runs, checked back for distribution from midfield, held the ball up to patiently to allow the attack build, was dangerous in the box, distributed wide and stretched the field etc... All things that this Revs team has lacked in the first 9 games of the season.

Of course it wasn't all Twellman. He is still a player who relies on the creative brilliance of a Steve Ralston playing behind him. He also needs to be provided balls into the box from the wide positions. Ralston and Twellman both need the type of strong midfield workhorse playing behind them in a Shalrie Joseph. However, it had been so long since we had seen this backbone of the team playing together, that we had almost forgot how effective they were together. Josephs ability to come deep into his own end to win balls, then distribute effectively, works so well with the creative intelligence of Steve Ralston, that they almost look born to play with eachother. Without that player playing above them (Twellman), who can effectively take their passes and creative playmaking skills, it seemed that their skills were going somewhat unused through the first part of this season.

Not all was pretty in this win, however. They still needed to steal three points on a late penalty call, which will still be debated, and will leave United with a sour taste in it's mouth. There were also some questionable performances from players like Pat Phelan, who was exposed as a lone defensive midfielder when Shalrie pushed forward. Chris Tierney's game also leaves a lot to be desired out on the wing. He lacks pace, and skills to really create things down the flank. He does probably send in the most effective ball into the box from the wide position, but getting to that space to deliver is a large task for a player with his limited ability.

The backline was decent all game long. Heaps and Barnes are still caught trailing attackers, and giving them too much space in critical areas of the field. Osei, although highly skilled, still makes risky decisions in distribution in his own third. The players in the back were under constant pressure for the majority of the match, and especially in the first half. Once Joseph was allowed to sit back more, due to the additions of Twellman, and then Mansally out wide, he was able to help a struggeling Phelan deal with Fred, who had been the most dangerous man on the pitch to that point. Once Fred was shut down, the DC attack became very one dimensional, and lacked a lot of vision and creativity. This lead to the Revs being able to win possession back much easier. Then with Twellman's ability to hold the ball up, they were able to maintain possession much more effectively than they had all season. Twellman is also the most effective player at being the first defender in transition. He pressures defenders into making poor decisions on the ball, and many times into giving up possession to our midfield. This relentless pressure takes pressure off of the Revs backline, and allows the Revs to maintain possession in the opponents attacking third of the field.

Mansally coming in on the wing also provided some much needed speed on the wing. He also looked much more comfortable, and effective out there, than we have ever seen him up top. His cross to Joseph early in the second half, was a quality play, and hopefully he can provide more just like it as the season moves on.

The domino effect of Twellman's presence, is something that we hope will continue through the rest of the season, and beyond. It is clear that this Revs roster lacks a player of his ability up top, and having to push either Joseph or Nyassi into that role just takes away from other critical areas of the field. It is unfortunate that Twellman's return came at the expense of a Larentowicz concusion, but if not for that change, the Revs would likely be sitting on 10 points after a loss, rather than the 13 they have tallied due to only their 2nd win at home on the season.

All in all, a great 3 points. The stadium atmosphere was also the best it has been all season, and we will be writing something about that later today.