Revolution coach Steve Nicol expects midfielder Andy Dorman to move to a British club but for most of the rest of the team to return with a renewed sense of purpose next year.
"When you go through what we did, you don't need to say a lot to them," Nicol said yesterday, the day after the Revolution's fourth MLS Cup defeat, a 2-1 loss to Houston. "Whether we won or lost, what we would say to the players is no different. We don't look back: Yesterday is gone and we look forward to next season.
"Absolutely, we can get back [to the final]. It's very strange, it's absolutely extraordinary to get to four finals and not win one of them. But this is the worst one because we played so well at times. I feel bad, but I've played in big games and won some, but I feel worse for our players, who haven't gotten what they deserved.
"But next year we are going to be bigger, stronger, faster, quicker, and we are going to be ready."
The Revolution could lose a player to the San Jose Earthquakes in tomorrow's expansion draft. The team's unprotected list includes defender Avery John, who started in the MLS Cup, and three others (Dorman, Gary Flood, James Riley) who started at least once during the season. Three players who started for Houston - defenders Ryan Cochrane and Craig Waibel, and goalkeeper Pat Onstad - are also on the unprotected list.
The contracts of Dorman and John expire in December. John, the only player to start in the World Cup (Trinidad & Tobago) and the MLS Cup in the last two years, could re-sign with the Revolution. Nicol and assistant coach Paul Mariner will be seeking reinforcements on a scouting trip to Argentina later this week and in the MLS draft, scheduled in January.
"We are always looking to try and better the team," Nicol said. "There is no guarantee we will go to Argentina and bring a player back. Unless we see someone better than what we have, we're not going to bring them in. Everyone has talent; it's finding a player who fits in, who's better than what we have.
"One thing we definitely need is cover. We have three at the back, and James Riley was our fourth guy, but we are looking for backup defensively. Pat Noonan and Taylor Twellman are great up front, and we have Adam Cristman and Kenny [Mansallie], who is a young guy who is looking good. But at the same time, if we see a fantastic striker and we can sign him, we'll sign him."
Nicol was satisfied with the Revolution's ability to create offense against Houston.
"Looking back at the game, when we were on top, we should have closed the game out," Nicol said. "We had our chances and we didn't do that. [Houston] got on top for 20 minutes and they scored. We had chances and never put them away, and that's what it's all about.
"Houston is a team that goes from the first to the 90th minute, and when you don't put them away, you are always susceptible to lose a goal."
The Revolution set the tone in the first half, as they did a year ago before falling on penalty kicks, both times Houston changing from its customary 4-4-2 formation to a 3-5-2 in the second half.
"If you look at the game, I think we were the better team," Nicol said. "We played better football and made chances. The goal we scored [by Twellman in the 20th minute] was a great goal, a constructive goal. Their first goal was scrappy, and those goals happen in football.
"A number of times, we were in the [penalty area] and the ball broke for their goalkeeper or he makes the save and we never had anybody there. Those are the intangibles, the difference between winning and losing."
Nicol does not plan to make major changes with the team.
"I don't think we lost because of anything we did," Nicol said. "The way we played was good, but in every single game you play, there is always a period of time where the other team will be on top. That's the nature of the game. And when we were on top, we never took our chances, and when they were on top, they scored from virtually nothing.
"We're not going to come in an say, 'We lost and we are changing the whole thing.' We got to where we are by doing what we do, so why would we change that? It's all about personnel, and we feel we have a good team, we are not going to change how we play and how we approach it.
"We have a strong core and the only thing we can guarantee is, at the start of preseason next year, we'll be back at it."
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.