FOXBORO, Mass.- After a 16-year career in Major League Soccer and 11 seasons with the New England Revolution, goalkeeper Matt Reis officially announced his retirement at a press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday morning.
Reis, 38, will be the Los Angeles Galaxy's goalkeeper coach starting next season. The Revolution offered Reis a position in the front office, but Reis, who is from Mission Viejo, Calif., ultimately chose to return to his roots.
A teary-eyed Reis said thank you to family, friends, teammates, and coaches and reflected on his long career. Revolution coach Jay Heaps, who played with Reis as a teammate, and Club President Brian Bilello both gave their regards to the most decorated goalkeeper in Revolution history and presented him with a framed poster highlighting his achievements.
"When you look at Matt across the spectrum, there's no other word but legend," said Revolution coach Jay Heaps of his player and former teammate. "He literally is retiring a legend for our organization, for the league. I don't see anyone coming along to replace that. You don't replace that."
“I have been truly blessed for the past 16 years,” Reis said. “I’ve been able to do something that I love – play soccer for a living. There have been many coaches who have influenced my development and helped get me to this point, and I have played with some fantastic players, many of whom are friends for life."
Reis is the Revolution's leader in most goalkeeping categories including games played in goal (242), games started in goal (241), minutes played in goal (21,702), goals against average (1.34), wins (86), saves (960), shutouts (61), and save percentage (72.1).
He is a four-time MLS All-Star and will finish his career in the top five of almost every league goalkeeper category including games played, games started, minutes played in goal, saves, and wins.
He retires after a career that includes winning the the U.S. Open Cup and Superliga, plus eight playoff appearances and four MLS Cup appearances with the Revolution. Reis started his career in 1998 with the Los Angeles Galaxy, where he also won the 2002 MLS Cup, CONCACAF Champions Cup, another U.S. Open Cup, and two Supporters Shields.
Reis was an alternate for the U.S. national team's 2006 World Cup squad. His first international appearance was a 0-0 draw against Canada in June of 2006. He was also the starting goalkeeper in Bob Bradley's first ever game as coach of the national team, a 3-1 win over Denmark on Jan. 20, 2007.
Though Reis played for the Galaxy for four years, he was the back-up to Kevin Hartman and only cracked the starting lineup 39 times. He was traded to the Revolution in 2003 for a draft pick.
“Trading for Matt Reis was one of the best acquisitions the Revolution has ever made,” said Revolution Investor/Operator Robert Kraft. “On the field, he was an elite MLS goalkeeper who set every career goalkeeping record in club history. He was a respected leader, both on the field and in the locker room, for more than a decade. He quickly became a fan-favorite and, for much of his career, was one of the faces of our franchise.
When Reis arrived in New England, then-starting goalkeeper Adin Brown was fresh off an impressive late season and playoff run in 2002 and retained his starting job through most of 2003. But when Brown's form dropped in 2004, Reis became the netminder on a permanent basis in former Revolution coach Steve Nicol's starting lineup.
A prime shot-stopper
Reis' most memorable saves have come in high intensity playoff games, though he was a consistently reliable shot-stopper no matter the setting. He almost always knew where the ball was going to end up before a player passed or shot and as a result, was always quick off his line.
One of Reis' biggest attributes, however, is his ability to save penalty kicks. In 2004, he became the first MLS player to save two penalty kicks in one playoff game, saving spot kicks from Tony Sanneh and Ross Paule against the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference Semifinal to help push the Revolution through to the next round.
Those saves were no fluke. He saved two more penalty kicks in a shootout during the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals against Chicago, too. The Revolution went to the MLS Cup that year, losing in a shootout against the Houston Dynamo. In that shootout, Reis stopped one penalty, though the Revolution lost the title when Heaps had the Revolution's final shot saved.
But Reis' prowess in shootouts would eventually yield a title for the Revolution. In the 2008 Superliga final, against Houston, who had defeated New England in two consecutive MLS Cup finals, Reis made saves on three penalty kicks to help the Revolution clinch their second-ever trophy.
The Midnight Riders and New England Rebellion, the Revolution's two main supporters groups, made a chant in Reis' name that is sung every time he's in goal. It's shouted in The Fort to the tune of The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" and asserts that they "dream of a team of Matt Reis" in which he wears numbers one through 11 and is the head coach.
Sometimes called "Batman without a cape", Reis has received league-wide recognition for certain performances in net, most of which are the playoff wins. But Reis received great praise for role in the second leg of this year's Conference Semifinal against Sporting Kansas City. In that game, Reis commanded his box and made seemingly impossible saves. When he came off the field after tearing his quadriceps, the entire MLS community responded by acknowledging the formidable game he played.
A key locker room member
Matt Reis has seen MLS grow from a 12-team project into a 19-team league that has established a viable reputation overseas and continues to expand to new cities and elevate the quality of American soccer.
That kind of experience is difficult to overlook. And one of the theme's that Heaps has touched upon repeatedly both as a player and coach has been the presence of Reis in the locker room.
“For me, it’s pretty simple: he’s not only one of the greatest goalkeepers in MLS, but also one of the greatest characters in MLS," said Frankie Hejduk, who was Reis' teammate both with UCLA and the U.S. national team. "He was the type of guy that brought the locker room together and he’s the kind of guy that any coach would want on his team. There’s a reason why he was at one club for so long and there’s a reason why guys like that are at one club for so long because he has a lot of respect."
Reis' humor is one of his most defining characteristics. Whether it was posing as Luis "El Lobo" Fangoso on April Fools' Day, or replying to someone with a quick, witty remark, Reis was able to help to balance seriousness and fun in a competitive environment.
"We always knew it was a special group of players," said Reis, who was the last player on the Revolution's roster who started in the 2007 MLS Cup final. "We knew between us we had something special. it's about having the right players and bringing them together. We had some amazing, amazing players. Winning those games, that's what you remember."
At the time of the 2007 final, the Revolution locker room was touted as one of the best in the league in terms of camraderie. The likes of Reis, Steve Ralston, Michael Parkhurst, Shalrie Joseph, and Jay Heaps gave the Revolution the best team chemistry in the league.
Once those players left, through retirement or transactions, the chemistry changed. Not having Reis in the lineup will almost certainly change the chemistry again, even if he isn't a field player. And there appears to be a general consensus that the locker room environment won't be the same again, either.
"As a guy who takes things seriously, probably too seriously most of the time, he kind of reminds us that this a game that we played as kids and it can still be fun even though it's a job," said defender Chris Tierney. "When things don't go your way sometimes it's difficult to come into a locker room but Matt does an amazing job of loosening things up and that it's a game and that it's fun and it's okay to smile once in a while."
"Matt brings a level of humor and wit to a locker room that will loosen it up," said Heaps. "When it gets tense and tight you need someone in the locker room like that. Timing is huge...being able to deliver at the right time is huge. Matt this year was sensational in that."
The Revolution's goalkeeping statistics show that there hasn't been one player the club has relied on more than Reis in between the pipes. In some cases, his experience is numerically calculated to be exponentially higher than all of the goalkeepers in Revolution history, which includes Walter Zenga, Juergen Summer, Jeff Causey, Bobby Shuttleworth, and Brown.
And yet Reis has found the time and desire to teach younger goalkeepers, most notably Bobby Shuttleworth. There was a point during the 2013 season in which Reis was unsure if he'd ever reclaim his starting role after Shuttleworth started 20 consecutive games and commanded one of the league's best back lines while accruing a 7-9-5 record.
"I've never been one to hold any information back," said Reis. "It's a position where only one guy gets to play, so it's tough in that regard. It's usually only us three against everyone else on the team so we have to stick together. If I can pass any information along, I think it's just helped everybody get better."
Reis made his biggest contribution off the field this past April, when on Patriots Day, he helped save the life of his father-in-law, John Odom, who was injured when two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
In the midst of a chaotic scene in downtown Boston, Reis made a tourniquet out of sweat pants and wrapped it around his father-in-law's leg. That act helped save Odom's life. His actions on that day and in the aftermath of the tragedy earned him the 2013 MLS Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Reis has made 1,114 saves during his MLS career. But saving Odom was certainly the biggest save of his life.
"Outside of everything that Matt did on the field during his whole career, what Matt did for his father-in-law after the Boston Marathon bombing will be the greatest highlight of his life," said former Revolution striker and ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman, who played with Reis for eight years and attended the press conference.
"I'm proud to call Matt a teammate, but also more importantly, a friend.”
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BOSTON- The New England Revolution announced via release today that the club is holding a press conference tomorrow at 11:15 a.m. with goalkeeper Matt Reis,
Reis, 38, had his contract option declined by the Revolution on Nov. 22, which could set the stage for his retirement.
Reis was instrumental in the Revolution's 2013 playoff push and was a key difference maker in their Conference Semifinal series against Kansas City. In game two of the series, he tore his quadriceps while attempting to dribble and clear the ball from midfield.
He leads the club in games played in goal (242), games started in goal (241), minutes played in goal (21,702), goals against average (1.34), wins (86), saves (960), shutouts (61), and save percentage (72.1).
In the league, Reis is 4th all-time in games played, fifth in saves, wins, and win percentage.
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For Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps, who greatly values roster depth, the first stage of this year's Re-Entry draft on Thursday is an ideal place to begin strengthening his team.
Over 60 players, many of whom are former U.S. national team players, high college draft picks, and league veterans, are eligible for selection. Because the Revolution were eliminated in the Conference Semifinals of the playoffs, they have the 12th pick in the first round of the draft. But the Revolution could move up in the order for the later rounds of the draft if teams that are ahead opt to pass instead of select.
There are two stages to the Re-Entry process. The second will be held via conference call on Dec. 18.
In the first stage, teams can pick up players along with their current contracts or make them a bona fide offer. Players that go unselected in stage one will be available in stage two. Teams who make selections in stage two will have seven days to make a bona fide offer. If both parties can't agree to terms, the team will still own the rights to the player if they decide to continue a career in MLS.
Players who go unselected through stage two will become available to all MLS clubs on a first come, first serve basis.
The Revolution's current roster stands at 17. They're thin at most positions and the Re-Entry draft could be a vessel that helps the Revolution fill some gaps.
Yesterday, however, The Revolution made a pre-draft move by signing goalkeeper Brad Knighton from the Vancouver Whitecaps. The move was announced at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, four hours after Matt Reis announced his retirement from professional soccer. The Revolution sent a conditional pick to Vancouver in exchange for Knighton, 28, who started his career in New England in 2007 then moved to the Philadelphia Union, Carolina Railhawks, and Vancouver.
In today's draft, the most notable available forwards are Steve Zakuani, Fabian Espindola, and Kenny Cooper. Zakuani, the first pick in the 2009 MLS Draft, has had an injury-riddled career with Seattle, is one of the league's fastest forwards and can play on the flank. Espindola, 28, scored three goals against the Revolution last year with the Red Bulls and could be a dynamic attacking option with Juan Agudelo gone, the future of Charlie Davies unclear, Saer Sene injured for the near and semi-distant future, and Jerry Bengston still gun-shy at the club level. Cooper's best years might be behind him, though his 6'3" frame would be an asset for set pieces.
New England's midfield appears to be the most set after securing Scott Caldwell, Andy Dorman, Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen, and recently acquiring Paolo DelPiccolo. But the Re-Entry process could allow the likes of Chris Rolfe or Bobby Convey to sign with the Revolution.
Rolfe, 30, is a proven league veteran with some international experience with the U.S. national team. He's listed as a midfielder, but he plays best as a forward and could be another attacking option for the Revolution. Convey, 30, was a once a coveted young player for Reading and the U.S. national team but has become a league journey-man since returning to MLS in 2009. He hasn't fit in with San Jose, Kansas City, or Toronto but could have a place with the Revolution as they look to sharpen their set piece taking.
After permanently adding Jose Goncalves to the roster, the Revolution's defense is secure for next season barring an injury. Alston could re-sign with the club if an agreement is reached before Wednesday. Otherwise, suitable defensive picks would be Heath Pearce, Dan Gargan, Bobby Boswell, Nana Attakora, Marc Burch, Brandon McDonald, Sean Franklin, and Ugo Ihemelu.
The full list of available players is available here.
The Revolution will have to take salary cap space and international roster spots into account when they make selections and negotiate. However, the Revolution have only used up five international roster spots (they have at least eight) and have shaved off about $1 million in base salaries in cap space (calculated using the MLS Player Union's published salaries and taking into account league roster rules).
That should give Heaps and General Manager Michael Burns plenty of roster space to make some kind of Re-Entry draft signing.
The Revoluton have selected at least two players in every Re-Entry draft. The Re-Entry draft process has yielded the signings of Barrett, Simms, and Ryan Cochrane.
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BOSTON- The New England Revolution will take on Swedish side Malmo FF in their first preseason match on Jan. 31 in Bradenton, Fla. The Revolution open their preseason camp on Jan. 25 and travel to Florida on Jan. 27 for a 10-day stay at the IMG Soccer Academy, plus additional scrimmages against Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire.
Malmo finished the 2013 Swedish Allsvenskan campaign in first place. Their roster includes former Seattle Sounders midfielder Erik Friberg and five recent call-ups to the Swedish national team.
The Revolution will train in Foxborough from Feb. 8 through Feb. 14. They will then travel to Tucson, Ariz. to participate in the Desert Diamond Cup in which they will play Chicago, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake, and FC Tucson, the hosts.
New England opens the regular season at Houston on March 8.
Commentary: Brazil will almost definitely finish first. Woe to whoever finishes second for Group B knockout match-up. Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon hard to separate.
Commentary: Spain vs Netherlands will probably be the best match of the group round. Both teams are a shoo-in to make it out.
3 Cote D'Ivoire
Commentary: Positions 2-4 are hard to separate, but Colombia look like good bets to finish first. This might be Japan's chance to make some real noise.
2 Costa Rica
Commentary: Tough for Uruguay to get out of this group. One really good team will be going home disappointed. There doesn't appear to be much hope for the Costa Ricans.
Commentary: Definitely the group of life. If France have their heads on straight, they should have no problems finishing first.
Commentary- Argentina should be ecstatic. Bosnia-Herzegovina look like they'll make it out of this group, too.
Commentary: Easily the Group of Death. The US should realistically be thinking that they beat Ghana, tie Portugal, hope to tie against Germany. Barring something crazy, this looks like it's Germany and Portugal's group to lose.
4 Korea Republic
Commentary: Belgium will have to work hard to not be upset by Korea or Russia. Korea and Russia should expect to go at it for that second spot.
Nervousness and stress are bound to take over the senses for most American soccer fans on Friday when FIFA draws 32 nations into eight groups for this summer's World Cup in Brazil from Salvador de Bahia.
The U.S, who have qualified for their seventh straight World Cup, look like statistical victims of FIFA's newest drawing system which favors recent, rather than historical, international powerhouses.
FIFA decided that the top seven teams from the October 2013 World Ranking would be the the seeded teams, along with the hosts, Brazil, rather than teams who are both currently strong and have a history of high finishes at the World Cup. That means that former winners England, Italy, France, 2010 runners-up Holland, and a slew of other teams could be drawn into what will likely already be a group of death for the U.S.
The U.S. will be drawn from Pot 3, along with their continental co-qualifiers Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, and Asian qualifiers Australia, Japan, Korea Republic, and Iran. The seeded teams, which are all in Pot 1, are Brazil, Germany, Colombia, Argentina, Switzerland, Uruguay, Spain, and Belgium.
Pot 2 consists of South American qualifiers Chile and Ecuador, plus African qualifiers Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Ivory Coast, and Ghana. Nine European nations, including the aforementioned former world champions, make up the fourth and final pot.
On Friday, the drawing will start with Pot 1 and finish sequentially with Pot 4. There will be no continental clashes within the groups, save for the possibility of having two European teams.
There won't be an easy group for any team, especially the U.S. There are, however, some scenarios that are more desirable than others. The U.S. will hope to get drawn into a group with either Switzerland or Uruguay since neither of those teams has star players and would be a close match-up for the Yanks.
The U.S. will want to avoid Brazil at all costs. As hosts, they have the home field advantage no matter where they play. They also haven't lost a World Cup group match since 1998 and are unbeaten in competitive matches at home since 1975.
Spain, Germany, and Argentina would be difficult draws as well. Spain is currently ranked number one in the world, are defending champions, and won the last two European Championships. Germany reached every World Cup knockout round since 1930, are three-time champions, and have finished in the top three of the last three World Cups. Argentina are two-time champions and haven't missed the knockout round since they failed to qualify in 1970. The U.S. boasts a bleak 6-15-2 record against this trio of teams.
African, Asian, and South American teams generally provide the U.S. with a stiff challenge. But the U.S.' group will be fairly straightforward, no matter which Pot 2 team they draw, if they can stay clear from most of the seeded teams and a majority of the European nations in Pot 4. Nevertheless, this is all easier said than done.
The worse case scenario, according to the recent FIFA rankings, would be the U.S. getting drawn into a group with Spain, Chile, and Italy. Their record against that trio is 5-12-3.
The best case scenario is getting drawn with Switzerland, Cameroon, and Russia. Ironically, the U.S,' record against that trio is 0-6-7. But there is no question that this hypothetical group would be more navigable than the absolute worst case scenario.
The U.S. have only qualified for the knockout round in four of the nine World Cups they've attended. They have an even 3-3-0 record in World Cups in South America, though they haven't competed in one since Brazil 1950.
Odds do not play in the U.S.' favor for this draw. There is only a 25 percent chance that they draw either Switzerland or Uruguay as their seeded team. There is also a 62.5 percent chance that they end up with a non-seeded European team that isn't either Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, or Croatia.
U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmman has been one of many voices who has lashed out at FIFA for their new drawing scheme. But FIFA appears to be looking for more exciting, competitive matches.
In the past, most groups would feature two teams that were expected to reach the knockout round. The draw would only produce one or two groups that were dubbed "the group of death" because of the parity of their teams.
This summer could feature eight groups of death and a knockout round that is dominated completely by European and South American teams. Imagine a group that includes Brazil, Ghana, Japan, and Italy. Or Germany, Ivory Coast, USA, and Netherlands. Or Spain, Chile, Korea Republic, and Portugal.
With tension set to sweep Salvador de Bahia as all 32 nations await their summertime fates, this World Cup could be the most difficult to call in history.
When Aaron Ramsey began his professional career with Cardiff City in 2006, the team was competing in the Football League Championship, England's second tier league. But Ramsey was anything but a second tier-type player, as it took just two years before English Premier League giants Arsenal signed him on a £4.8 million transfer fee.
On Saturday, Ramsey rendezvoused with his former club as an opponent and scored twice to help Arsenal capture a 3-0 win. The finish on both of Ramsey's goal was sublime. He flicked a 29th minute, driven cross from Mesut Özil past the outstretched dive of Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall and into the back of the net. In second half stoppage time, Ramsey finished an exchange with Theo Walcott by powering a shot into the upper right corner of the net.
The tallies were Ramsey's seventh and eighth of the season and helped extend first place-Arsenal's lead at the top of the standings to seven points.
But rather than showboat his goal in front of his former home crowd, Ramsey silently walked back to midfield, only slapping the hands of some of his Arsenal teammates, and waited for play to resume. It was a humble act by a player who hasn't forgotten his roots.
Ramsey began playing for Cardiff's youth team at age 8. He worked his way through the reserves before becoming a regular fixture with the first team. Since those foundational years, Ramsey has not only played in the Premier League, but he's also competed in the Olympic Games, World Cup qualifiers, and Champions League.
Arsenal fans who traveled to Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday naturally applauded Ramsey's goal. But ore surprising was the reaction of the Cardiff fans, who also applauded. To the Bluebirds, Ramsey is a classy, talented player they can call their own.
Losing Ramsey, even though he was just 17 at the time, was a big hit for Cardiff. Though Arsenal eventually signed Ramsey, he was chased by Manchester United and Everton, too.
Cardiff turned a corner when they were taken over by Malaysian investors in 2010. The club went through a re-brand and an influx of capital, and as a result Cardiff are no longer a team to be taken lightly. This year is their first-ever year competing in the Premier League.
And though they are currently hovering above the three-team relegation zone with 13 points from 13 games, Cardiff have perhaps played better than their current position suggests. They defeated Manchester City in August and then tied both Everton and Manchester United.
The days of Ramsey are long gone but Cardiff has gone on to make extraordinary progress as a club. Now separated, both parties are stepping up to different challenges. For Ramsey, it's about competing for a starting role on what is one of the best teams in the world. For Cardiff, it's about staying in the Premier League.
Revolution center back Jose Goncalves was named MLS Defender of the Year on Friday.
Portuguese defender joined the Revolution on loan last season from Switzerland's FC Sion and bolstered the back line while also captaining the team. Last week, the Revolution exercised the purchase option on Goncalves' loan deal, making him a permanent addition to their roster.
Goncalves started all 34 games for the Revolution in 13 and helped give the team the third-best defensive record in MLS. Combining with Andrew Farrell, Chris Tierney, AJ Soares, and Stephen McCarthy, plus goalkeepers Matt Reis and Bobby Shuttleworth, Goncalves helped the Revolution accrue 14 shutouts during the regular season.
Goncalves beat out Kansas City's Matt Besler, New York's Jamison Olave, and Los Angeles' Omar Gonzalez for the honor. He garnered 36.7 percent of the vote from clubs, 46.7 percent of the media vote, and 18.8 percent of player votes.
He is only the second Revolution player to win the award. Michael Parkhurst won in 2007.
Revolution add Paolo DelPiccolo
The Revolution selected midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo from the waiver draft on Monday. DelPiccolo, 22, last played for the Montreal Impact. He spent the beginning of last season player in Germany for Eintracht Frankfurt's reserves. He is a close friend and former college teammate of Revolution defender Andrew Farrell. Both players attended Louisville.
BOSTON- The Revolution made a series of roster moves on Friday.
The club picked up contract options on 11 players, declined nine contracts, waived three, and let contracts expire on three others. Four players were under contract already.
“After every season, we have to take a hard look at our roster and make some very difficult decisions, both for personnel and salary budget considerations,” Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said in a statement.
“In our case, we’ll continue discussions with some of the out-of-contract and declined-option players in the hope they will return to the club next year."
“Just because a player’s contract option is not picked up or he’s out of contract, does not mean that he won’t be back,” said Burns. “That’s just part of the process.”
The Revolution picked up contract options on goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, defenders Jose Goncalves, Stephen McCarthy, AJ Soares, and O'Brian Woodbine, midfielders Scott Caldwell, Andy Dorman, and Lee Nguyen, plus forwards Jerry Bengston, Dimitry Imbongo, and Saer Sene.
Goncalves, who spent last season on loan from Switzerland's FC Sion, has been purchased and is now a permanent member of the Revolution's roster. He was an integral part of a back line that accumulated 14 shutouts and combined for the third-best defense in the league.
“With what he provided us on and off the field this year, we’re looking forward to him returning,” said Burns. “We’re certainly glad that we were able to acquire him on a permanent basis.”
The four players who were already under contract are Diego Fagundez, Andrew Farrell, Kelyn Rowe, and Chris Tierney. Each of those players established themselves as regular starters last year. Fagundez led team scoring (13), Rowe led team assists (8), Farrell was a mainstay at right back, and Tierney continued to be one of the team's best crossers.
The nine players who had contract options declined were forwards Chad Barrett and Charlie Davies, midfielders Clyde Simms, Juan Toja, Ryan Guy, and Donnie Smith, defender Tyler Polak, and goalkeepers Matt Reis and Luis Soffner.
This move could set the stage for Reis to announce his retirement.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations with Matt from the coaches to the front office,” said Burns. “I think it would probably be more appropriate – at the appropriate time – for Matt to address his situation. He was not an easy one for us, but we made a decision to not exercise the option. But there’s obviously a lot more to it than that.”
Barrett's six-figure salary was high for a forward who only scored two goals and spent most of his time coming off the bench. Simms, Guy, and Smith were all superfluous additions to the midfield. Toja's $295,000 guaranteed compensation ate up a huge chunk of salary cap space, especially since he didn't play after Aug. 4. Polak spent most of the season with the club's affiliate in Rochester and didn't look like a future contributor to the first team. Soffner could still find his way back next year, too.
Davies joined the Revolution mid-season on loan from Randers and could still return next season.
“Charlie’s a player that we would like to have return to us, but [his situation] is a little bit more complicated than some other ones that may have been a little bit more straightforward,” said Burns. “We are working and [we’re] in the process to hopefully have him back in a Revs uniform next year.”
Out of contract are Juan Agudelo, Darrius Barnes and Kevin Alston. Agudelo just had his work permit denied in England, which means he would likely return to the Revolution if he chose to stay in MLS. However, he does have other options in Europe.
“I’m sure at the moment Juan has an awful lot on his plate and going through his head after having heard the news about his work permit being rejected,” Burns said. “If he’s interested in returning, then he’s a player we would absolutely welcome back and welcome the opportunity to have a conversation with him about returning to New England.”
Barnes and Alston were key depth pieces for the Revolution, especially at the end of this season, but were never consistent starters.
The three players waived were defender Bilal Duckett, midfielder Gabe Latigue, and forward Matt Horth. Those players are available for selection in the Waiver Draft, which takes place on Monday, Nov. 25.
“We’ve been steadily adding pieces to our club and after showing some improvement this year, we’ve retained a core group of players for next season. We’ll continue to try to strengthen the team this off-season through more signings and the various drafts,” Burns continued.
The Revolution could add new players as soon as Monday through the Waiver Draft. There's also the Re-Entry draft in December, College Drafts in January, plus in-league trades to sign more players. Burns and Head Coach Jay Heaps are currently on an international scouting trip, which means foreign talent could be on its way, too.
The New England Revolution are one of 10 teams in MLS that make money, according to Forbes. The Revolution made $2.6 million in 2012, have a revenue of $17.9 million, and are worth $89 million. Those three factors make them the 12th most valuable team in MLS.
It's also proof that having a big name, soccer-only stadium, and star players isn't the ticket to fiscal success. Take the New York Red Bulls, who have backing from a company that sells a global product, have one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country, and have one of the most famous players in the world in Thierry Henry. After all that, the Red Bulls lost $6.1 million last year.
Toronto FC have the best formula, given that they've been less than mediocre year in and year out. They're 5th most valued team, with a revenue of $30.9 million and a 2012 profit of $4.5 million.
Toronto have never been to the playoffs.
The two most valued clubs, Seattle and Los Angeles, respectively, appear to be on the right track. Seattle prioritizes its brand name, happy to play in an American football stadium and sign players that have succeeded in Europe-- not necessarily the star players. The Sounders made $18.2 million last year. Los Angeles has its own stadium, a roster that has included David Beckham, Robbie Keane, and Landon Donovan, and still made $7.8 million.
The fact that the Revolution make money is key.
"I would rather give that money to charity if I had it," Robert Kraft, who owns the Revolution and New England Patriots, told British media when asked if he would consider investing in the English Premier League in 2012.
"I want every business to stand on its own," he added.
The Revolution does stand on its own. On the field, the team is in the middle of a Renaissance, making the playoffs for the first time since 2009. They went just as far as the Galaxy and the Sounders in the playoffs, too. What's more, they thumped the Galaxy, 5-0, in the regular season. From a fiscal standpoint, the results are irrelevant. But there's something to be said for creating a product on the field that wins without risking millions of dollars. It's moneyball.
Juan Agudelo has had his work permit appeal to play in the English Premier League rejected, according to Stoke City.
The club and Agudelo had to appeal because of a rule that states work permits can be automatically granted for a non-European Union player if they have played in at least 75 percent of their national team's games over the last two years.
Agudelo, 20, has 17 caps for the U.S. national team. But he hasn't suited up for the Yanks since Jan. 29, 2013.
With this decision, which is unlikely to be appealed a second time, Agudelo's transfer to Stoke City will likely be cancelled.
“We’re bitterly disappointed that the panel rejected our appeal for a work permit for Juan,” Tony Scholes, Stoke City's chief executive, told NBC. “The criteria by which the panel should make work permit application decisions are well established and have been in place for some years and, despite recent comments to the media and discussion in the media, that criteria has not changed. We are therefore left amazed that our application for a work permit for Juan has been rejected when you compare his talent and ability to players who have been granted a work permit on appeal in the past.”
Some members of the English FA are trying to crack down on transfers such as this, NBC also reported. One is Chairman Greg Dyke, who has attempted to limit the amount of young, foreign international players that enter the Premier League.
Agudelo's future remains unclear. His contract with MLS expires on Jan. 1 and the Revolution would hold his rights if he does choose to stay in the U.S. But Agudelo seems keen on trying his fortunes abroad. He said in August that even a designated player contract, which includes a salary higher than the league's salary cap would allow, wouldn't coax him to stay in MLS instead of going to Stoke.
With this latest development, Agudelo could be free to look elsewhere for international playing time. The likes Celtic, who are in the midst of a Champions League campaign, were interested in signing Agudelo in the summer.
Major League Soccer has birthed a new team on the East Coast.
Orlando City SC, backed by Flavio Augusto da Silva, a Brazilian business man, and Phil Rawlins, a British-born investor who owns part of Stoke City, will begin play in 2015. Their primary color will be purple. Their nickname is the Lions. And they will play in the Florida Citrus Bowl before moving into a brand new, 18,000-seat, soccer-specific stadium whose construction is expected to begin next spring.
Building the stadium and establishing a club mentality may take some time. But creating an identity won't. That's because Orlando has been kicking and screaming for a professional soccer team since 2010.
After founding the club as the Texas-based Austin Aztex in 2008, Rawlins moved his franchise to Orlando as a minor league team that still competes in USL Pro (where it has won a Championship and a regular season title). Rawlins set up shop in Florida with the hope that his venture would one day become a professional MLS team.
That day has finally come, with thousands on hand in Orlando on Tuesday for the official announcement. Supporters were decked out in violet clad jersey and waving Orlando City SC flags. That fan base, which is expected to be one of the best in the league come 2015, is probably delighted with Rawlin's and da Silva's intentions to build a competitive and star-studded roster ahead of 2015. Da Silva even commented that he's going to sign the "Brazilian David Beckham," rumored to be Real Madrid star Kaka.
A new team in a new era
There are at least two things that most teams are doing to be taken seriously in this decade of MLS. One is building an urban, soccer-only stadium. The other is signing high profile foreign players.
Orlando City SC will get the stadium and if da Silva's chatter about Kaka means anything, it's that the club's staff can be trusted with player acquisition.
That kind of commitment to soccer likely delighted MLS executives when Orlando was first proposed as a potential new market. But the best measure of a successful market is the strength of the fan base. Yes, the fact that so many gathered in Orlando to celebrate the birth of their professional soccer team is impressive. But worth tapping into is Orlando's diverse population, which includes the fourth-highest growing Latino population in America.
MLS has seen some expansion experiments go awry. Markets like Chivas USA have struggled to put a consistent product on the field and have created a brand name that caters only to Latinos, alienating them from other types of soccer fans. Toronto has a viable fan base, but are an administrative disaster having had six head coaches since 2009.
Da Silva and Rawlin's commitments appear to be in the right place. But even then there's the shadow of two previously failed MLS Florida markets, Miami and Tampa Bay, which Orlando City SC will have to overcome.
Back to Florida
Founded in 1995 and 1996, respectively, the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion were supposed to be staple franchises with rich futures for the newborn MLS. But in 2001, both teams folded due to a lack of financial resources and the league trying to operate both teams on a low budget.
There was, however, some success. The Mutiny made the playoffs every year. They had young players that would go on to cultivate American soccer in other cities nationwide. They signed Carlos Valderrama, the Colombian Messi of the '90s. Miami didn't have as exciting a roster, but they did make playoffs three out of years.
When Miami and Tampa Bay got cut, the league shrunk from 12 to 10 teams. But when expansion restarted in 2005 with the advent of Salt Lake City and Chivas, there was immediate talk of bringing a franchise back to Florida. The league has waited a decade to make that happen, and by no fault of its own. There needed to be a competent investor in place that could sell a viable plan to MLS, enter da Silva and Rawlins.
Not only do da Silva and Rawlins have the passion and fan base to create a successful franchise, but they also have examples to study. The breakthrough in city-wide support for new teams in Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver has helped MLS turn a corner. On a consistent basis, this trio of teams packs its stadium and showcases modern, exciting soccer in front of a knowledgeable and energetic crowd.
Orlando could follow the same exact model. All three of those teams have very little competition from other sports teams, giving them additional support from an entire city that's hungry to see a winning team. The Portland Timbers aren't second to the NBA Trail Blazers in Oregon, the Whitecaps draw high numbers to compete with the Vancouver Canucks in British Colombia, and Seattle Sounders tickets are just as hot, if not hotter, than entrance to a Mariners or Seahawks game.
Orlando has the same, wide-open market. The Orlando Magic of the NBA are the only professional team that the Lions will have to jostle with for attention.
A changing league
With the addition of Orlando, plus a second team in New York City, both of which will kick-off together in 2015, MLS is expected to make some changes.
The league will likely look into conference configuration, scheduling, and roster rules.
With 21 teams (the league says it plans to be at 24 by 2020) the United States has more professional franchises competing in its highest league than England, Italy, Germany, Spain, and France. That might deter MLS from going to a single table format, as is the case in most leagues around the world.
MLS could keep its conference structure, though one team, likely Houston, would have to move to the Western Conference. There's also another hypothesis that MLS will switch to a divisional system and divide itself by East, Midwest, and West.
Scheduling is logistical. Changing the configuration of the league's roster rules, which are dominated by a salary cap, is exciting.
Teams like Los Angeles, New York Red Bulls, Seattle, and Montreal seem to have no qualms about shelling out money for international superstars. New York City FC, who will be backed by the New York Yankees and Manchester City, will probably bring in some world renown players, too. Orlando City want the Brazilian-Beckham, an indication that they're all in for a rich roster as well.
Other MLS teams like the Revolution, Kansas City, and Real Salt Lake have succeeded relying on good foreign players--- not the Beckhams, Henrys, and Martins of the world. But MLS might be tempted to loosen up roster rules to encourage more of those aforementioned-type players coming to play in the U.S.
Under current rules, a team is permitted to have three designated players (players whose contracts and transfer fees do not count against the salary cap). The league might entertain allowing teams to have a fourth designated player, an act which would sit well with many of America's high-spending clubs.
Maintaining its individuality
There are tell-tale signs that the world's version of soccer is at America's doorstep. More soccer-only stadiums. More knowledgeable fans. More jersey sponsors. Better quality of play on the field. A national team whose players play on some of the world's best clubs. A league that grows stronger and more competitive every day.
And yet, MLS has managed to maintain some of its uniqueness. Whether it's keeping the post-season, or the pre-season drafts, or the summer-oriented schedule, or the Americanized franchise names like the "Chicago Fire" and "Houston Dynamo," MLS has taken steps to be its own entity.
With a growing league and demand among many of the nation's soccer fans to be more European, these traditions could change. But the key is that MLS, already deeply international by the fact that it's a successful soccer league on American soil (who knew?), is poised to one day be as competitive as the Premier League, Serie A, and La Liga-- regardless of whether or not we call the game soccer or football.
The New England Revolution announced today that they will participate in the Desert Diamond Cup as part of their preseason preparations.
The tournament, which takes place at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz. and includes the Revolution, Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake, and FC Tucson, will be played from Feb. 19 to March 1.
There was a rumor earlier in the summer that the Revolution would go on tour in Indonesia as part of their preseason tour. Those rumors appear to be false, as the Revolution will compete in their third-ever Desert Diamond Cup.
The Revolution will start the tournament against Real Salt Lake on Feb. 19. They will then play Chivas USA (Feb. 22) and the Colorado Rapids (Feb. 29). There will be an additional game to decide the final placement of the six participating teams.
MLS has not released schedule information for the 2014 regular season, though it is expected to start in early to mid March.
Roma are pleased with their form in Serie A, even if they've tied two straight games after starting the season with a ten-match win streak. Their attractive playing style which includes a potent, creative attack and a resolute defense has them atop the standings and looking like a shoo-in for a spot in next year's Champions League.
"If someone had said at the beginning of the season that we'd be 10-0-2 at this point, I would have been be pretty happy," said Roma President James Pallotta, who is also a shareholder with the Boston Celtics.
"I felt strongly in July that we'd be a very good team, much better than anyone thought," he added.
Twelve different players have tallied goals to help give Roma Italy's second-best offensive record. Meanwhile, the defense has allowed just three goals (three!). The next best defensive record is ten goals allowed, owned by Juventus.
Roma's current form is making them question whether they want to add players in the January transfer window. On the one hand, they have been linked to the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Lewis Holtby, and Filip Djordjevic. But Roma's braintrust might be hesitant to sign these players, or others, since team administrators fear that adding someone new to the group could disrupt the already fine team chemistry.
Known as the "gioco di squadra" in Italy, the playing style that revolves around teamwork and intrasquad chemistry has been instrumental in Roma's early success. New coach Rudi Garcia has helped the team put egos aside and created a unit that plays a uniform, progressive style of soccer.
Garcia has had major success with the 4-3-3 formation, as it's a tactic that encourages open space for creative, attack-minded soccer and also a steady back line to contend with opposing strikers.
"Rudi was going to be part of the glue that held the team together," said Pallotta. "I had very high expectations for him and he's exceeded them...It's a real team. The players like each other and like playing for each other."
Teamwork aside, some individuals have shown up for Roma, too. One is Miralem Pjanic, the Bosnian-Herzegovinian energizer bunny, who has tallied three goals and four assists. Though Pjanic has been linked to a move to the English Premier League, Pallotta said that the club is close to sewing up a long term contract to keep him in Rome.
The rest of the squad is doing its part. Freshly signed veteran goalkeeper Morgan DeSanctis leads the league in shutouts (9). Captain Francesco Totti, despite currently being out injured because of a pulled hamstring, leads Serie A in assists with six. Alessandro Florenzi has found his form as a striker, leading his team in scoring with four goals. Federico Balzaretti and Maicon patrol the flanks. Daniele De Rossi, Pjanic, and Kevin Strootman manage the midfield. Michael Bradley, Rodrigo Taddei, and Marco Boriello have all come in off the bench to add a spark.
These players are part of the team's core. And according to Pallotta, keeping that core together will be a major component in determining whether or not Roma will be an annual participant in Champions League.
"It's really important that we're focused on having the team together," Pallotta said. "That will make this a very strong team for the next three years."
Off the field, the club is achieving stability. The fiscal crisis that Pallotta inherited when he helped take over Roma in 2011 is under control. The club has developed key partnerships with Disney and Nike. And, Roma plans to continue marketing the team to its American supporters by playing more friendlies in the U.S. during the summer months.
The last piece of the puzzle could be building a newstadium, a project which Pallotta says is moving right along. The circa-60 thousand-seat stadium in Tor di Valle, a part of Rome about 10 miles from the city center, is expected to open for the 2016/2017 season, according to Pallotta.
"There are no delays on the stadium," said Pallotta. "By the end of the year we should have a good announcement. It's on our schedule of when we want to have it open."
In the wake of the Revolution's 4-3 aggregate goal loss to Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, here are some thoughts on the Revolution, the playoff series, and where the team goes next.
He reportedly tore his quadriceps when he ran out to midfield to clear a loose ball in the 120th minute. After he left the field, Twitter and Facebook exploded with praise and words of condolence to Reis, who was named the Revolution's match MVP at the end of the game.
That support, which came from Revolution, Kansas City, and neutral fans, was indicative of Reis' tungsten-strong performance in net. He made seven saves during the game, but was also a key figure in New England's end of season playoff push that saw them go 4-0-2.
"He's a stud and really led us into the playoffs and through that last stretch of games where we needed to win all the time," said defender AJ Soares. "He was that backbone, the guy we leaned on all the time and when we needed something to be said, a veteran presence to come in and let us know how it was going to be done, he was the guy."
Reis has been a key component to the Revolution's heart and soul both on and off the field. Against Kansas City, he showcased why he's still one of the best goalkeepers in MLS. In the 17th minute, he dove left to tip a snap-header from Kansas City's Dominic Dwyer from flying into the net. But Reis' signature stop was an Oh-you-gotta-be-kidding-me double save in the 55th minute. Chance Meyers cross from the right flank found Dwyer, who had another header blocked by an outstretched Reis. But Benny Feilhaber immediately headed the rebound back at goal, forcing Reis to jump up again and barely tip away the point-blank effort.
"That's been the story the last couple months," added Soares. "Matt Reis has been phenomenal...When we slipped up in the back, he was the guy that made the save. He was great and tonight he was great again and I'm just bummed out he went down with that injury."
Though Reis allowed two goals in regulation, neither was his fault. He was, however, partly to blame for Claudio Bieler's game-winning goal in the 113th minute. At end of a Kansas City attack, he threw the ball to the left flank toward Diego Fagundez. But Feilhaber intercepted the throw, ran down the flank, and played the ball into the penalty area for Bieler, who was wide open. Bieler connected with Feilhaber's feed and buried a first-time effort for the 4-3 aggregate lead, his first goal since Sept. 2.
That mistake of not being patient when in possession of the ball, is one that Reis has likely taught Revolution back-up Bobby Shuttleworth to avoid. This season, Reis was perhaps more useful as a mentor. He only regained his starting role after Shuttleworth's form started to dip in August. Until that point, Shuttleworth had used Reis' teachings to improve his game and command, what was at the time, the best back line in the league.
In recent months, there was great speculation over whether this season would be Reis' last. It's a subject that neither Reis nor the Revolution have addressed. To be fair, neither party has been asked.
If Reis does choose to retire this winter, he will do so as one of the best goalkeepers in league history. He is fifth all-time in the league in saves, shutouts, and has the third-best save percentage.
But the Revolution would lose a leader and a teacher, too. Shuttleworth has improved in part because of Reis. And Reis is a valued member of the locker room, too. His personality balances humor and determination, keeping his team at ease while they focus on the challenge ahead.
Former Revolution players make their statement
The difference-makers for Kansas City on Wednesday night were former Revolution players. Left back Seth Sinovic, drafted by the Revolution in 2010, scored the goal that forced extra time. Feilhaber, who joined the Revolution from Aarhus via the allocation draft in 2011, assisted on Kansas City's game-winning goal.
The transfer of Seth Sinovic is widely regarded by most members of the Revolution's media corps as the worst transaction in team history. Despite being a reliable, consistent left back in 2010, the Revolution waived Sinovic early in the 2011 season. By waiving Sinovic, they got nothing back in return.
Sinovic's salary was small enough that it made no difference to the cap. And, what's more, the Revolution signed defender Otto Loewy quickly after setting Sinovic loose. Weeks later, Sinovic joined his hometown Sporting Kansas City after trialing with them and Real Salt Lake.
Feilhaber, however, was a different case. By the end of last season, he was a bench player. He had fallen far from the form that had ushered him through a World Cup run with the U.S. in 2010. He also looked frustrated on the field; there was no chemistry between him and his teammates. His salary at the time was $400,000. For that chunk of cap space, Feilhaber was been worth more to the Revolution playing elsewhere.
So last fall, Feilhaber was traded to Kansas City for two draft picks and allocation money. It was a move that had to be done. But the Revolution shot themselves in the foot by allowing Feilhaber to stay in the Eastern Conference, where he could play against them more often.
Under league rules, the Revolution would have to play Kansas City at least twice during the regular season and could potentially face them in the playoffs, too. Both of those things happened. And Feilhaber, ever content to punish his former team, tallied a goal against the Revolution in the regular season and assisted on the strike that knocked them out of the playoffs.
The Revolution were not at full strength
Depth has been a major component to the Revolution's success this season. For every Reis, there was a Shuttleworth. For every Stephen McCarthy, there was a Soares. For every Juan Agudelo, there was a Chad Barrett or Dimitry Imbongo.
In the playoffs, the Revolution's depth was tested at especially left back. Injuries prevented both Chris Tierney and Kevin Alston from playing, forcing Jay Heaps to slot Darrius Barnes in that position. Barnes performed well, though it would have been more ideal for the Revolution to have had Tierney, who has been the set piece specialist all season.
Furthermore, the late season loss of Saer Sene (broken ankle) changed the complexion of the Revolution's attack. The trio of Fagundez, Agudelo, and Sene was potent for the Revolution and the team would have likely profited from an attack that was centered around those three players. Instead, Heaps had to opt for a hybrid 4-3-3 with Fagundez, Agudelo, and the revolving door of forwards that included Barrett, Imbongo, and Jerry Bengston.
Farewell, Juan Agudelo
With this playoff loss, Agudelo has the green light to leave MLS and join Stoke City, with whom he signed a pre-contract this summer. Agudelo is still reportedly waiting for his British work permit to be cleared, but he will nevertheless be an English Premier League player in the near future.
The signing of Agudelo was the Revolution's biggest transfer within MLS since they traded Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson to Colorado for Preston Burpo and Cory Gibbs in 2010. Agudelo woke up the Revolution attack, which was gun-shy until he arrived from Chivas USA in May.
The magic of Agudelo was his skill on the ball and the way he paired with his teammates. He is able to dribble at defenders and create space for a penetrating pass.
In the locker room, he was stationed next to Fagundez. That set-up the duo to establish one of the best forward partnerships in MLS. On and off the field, they conversed in Spanish, a tactic which yielded like-minded play and kept their opponents guessing.
With Agudelo gone, the Revolution will be missing a hold-up forward. That's a position that's integral to Heaps' possession-based, attacking style.
A new season looms
The Revolution will watch the remainder of the MLS Playoffs from their sofas and living rooms. They were considered, by many, to be the dark horses of the post-season. But on paper, the better team won in the Conference Semifinals. Kansas City outplayed the Revolution and entered the playoffs ranked higher than New England and with the league's best defensive record.
Nevertheless, New England's performance this season could set the pace for another return to the post-season next year. The only piece of the young nucleus that definitely won't return to Foxborough next year is Agudelo. The rest of the team seems poised to pick up where the 2013 Revolution left off.
After a period of rebuilding in his first year as Head Coach, Heaps seems poised to continue as well. He will look to learn from the mistakes of 2013 and make a deeper post-season push next year. He and General Manager Mike Burns will also likely have plenty of salary cap space to play with to make important personnel decisions.
The New England Revolution's season and playoff hopes are over.
On Wednesday night, they lost, 3-1 (4-3 on aggregate) to Sporting Kansas City in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Sporting Park. Extra time was needed to decide the match even though Revolution and Kansas City traded blows in regulation time.
Aurelien Collin scored his second goal of the playoffs in the 41st minute to tie the aggregate score at 2-2. The Revolution's Dimitry Imbongo scored in the 70th minute off a freekick, but former Revolution left back Seth Sinovic scored nine minutes later to force supplemental time.
In the 23rd minute of the allotted half hour of extra time, Claudia Bieler scored the game-winner, latching onto a low cross by another former Revolution player, Benny Feilhaber.
The result ends the Revolution's first playoff run since 2009 and snaps their seven-game unbeaten run. The loss also means that the Revolution are still winless at Sporting Park. Meanwhile, Kansas City will move onto the Conference Final and play the Houston Dynamo.
Matt Reis made seven saves for the Revolution and was named the team's match MVP, though he produced the giveaway that led to Bieler's game-winning goal. As the Revolution tried for a late-game rally, Reis fell to the turf after attempting to clear a loose ball in midfield. Kansas City's Graham Zusi pounced on the ball and fired a shot off the crossbar while Reis laid on the turf, motionless, clutching his knee.
Medical staff had to help usher Reis off the field and, without substitutions remaining, right back Andrew Farrell took his place in net. Reis forced back tears as he left the field, according to a team staffer on the sideline.
Kansas City's three goals were small blemishes on an otherwise excellent performance by Reis. The goals were more indicative of the fact that the Revolution were outplayed by their hosts from start to finish. In fact, by the game's end, Kansas City had out-shot the Revolution 25-5, edged them in corners 10-1, and controlled 64 percent of the possession.
That domination started early, as Kansas City sought to erase the one-goal deficit they accrued in Game 1. In the 17th minute, Sinovic crossed to Dominic Dwyer, whose header was knocked away by a diving Reis.
The Revolution eventually caved to Kansas City in the 41st minute. Farrell deflected a cross by Chance Meyers into the path of a wide open Collin, who pounced on the loose ball by sliding it into the net off the left post.
After being dominated for the entirety of the first half, the Revolution substituted Scott Caldwell for Andy Dorman in an attempt to create more space in midfield. The switch worked, as the Revolution played a more attacking, possession-oriented game in the second half. Nevertheless, they still had to rely on Reis.
In the first 20 minutes of the second stanza, the game switched from being dominated by Kansas City into an open, end-to-end fire storm. It started in the 55th minute when Meyers crossed into the box for Feilhaber, whose open header was blocked by Reis. The ball boucned right back to Feilhaber, who headed his rebound off of Reis' fingertips again.
In the 70th minute, the Revolution caught a break. Kelyn Rowe played a freekick from the right flank into the box for Imbongo, who half volleyed the cross into the back of the net past Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. Imbongo, who managed to score despite being marked by three players, briefly returned the aggregate lead to the Revolution with his goal.
But the Revolution's edge would be short-lived. In the 79th minute, Collin sent a long ball downfield to Zusi, who was about five yards from the penalty area. Zusi flicked the ball forward to left side of the box for Sinovic, who fired the pass first-time into the back of the net for his first career goal.
The game appeared to be destined for extra time, even though Diego Fagundez clipped the crossbar with an effort from long range in the 85th minute. Kansas City came close to deciding the game late too, as Paulo Nagamura fired a low drive from the top of the box inches wide of the far post in the final minute of second half stoppage time.
Kansas City dominated extra time, though the Revolution did have one chance take the game. In the 109th minute, Lee Nguyen sprung Juan Agudelo, who cut past Matt Besler and dribbled into the penalty area. Agudelo, slightly off balance, looked up and fired a shot that Nielsen parried away.
That play was the Revolution's best of the game, aside from Imbongo's goal. And Agudelo's inability to finish ended up costing the Revolution.
In the 113th minute, Reis attempted to throw the ball to the left flank for Fagundez. But Feilhaber intercepted the pass, ran into the box, and squared the ball into the center of the area. Bieler latched onto Feilhaber's pass, firing a shot that went past Reis and into the goal to give Kansas City the decisive 4-3 aggregate goal lead.
After the goal, the Revolution had little time to tie the series. They were only given one minute of stoppage time by referee Mark Geiger and the injury to Reis forced them to subtract one defender since they were out of substitutions.
The Revolution have succeeded in ruffling the feathers of Sporting Kansas City.
Since they took Game One of the Eastern Conference semifinals, 2-1, last Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, Kansas City's players and staff have been fuming over the controversial, yet seemingly correct, officiating decision on the Revolution's first goal.
"Those things will be dealt with over the course of the match," Kansas City coach Peter Vermes told reporters on Tuesday, referring to referees' control of the game. "There's no doubt about it in my mind.”
“We're going to have to take matters into our own hands [if necessary].“It's for you to watch the game and see. It's not for me to talk about those things, because our players are fully aware what they've got to do. In this one, I'm not tipping my hand or anything. We're going to this game to be very hungry to go play, and we'll see," he added.
With Game Two set for Wednesday night at Sporting Park in Missouri, Kansas City is looking to replace the result from a few nights ago with a win.
Not that a win will be enough. If Kansas City lead the Revolution by one goal at the end of Wednesday night's game, they'll have to go to extra time. Only a victory by two or more goals would see Kansas City move to the Conference Finals to play either New York or Houston. Meanwhile, all the Revolution have to do is tie.
Statistics would suggest that this is easier said than done. Even though the Revolution are currently riding a seven-game unbeaten run, Kansas City has only lost four times at home this year. The Revolution have also only ever scored one goal at Sporting Park. Kansas City's defense, which allowed 30 goals this year, was the strongest in the league.
And yet, the Revolution have at least one key advantage.
Psychologically, they won't be shaken.
Listening to Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps all season, it's clear that he and his team won't focus on the extraneous. Since he was hired as coach nearly two years ago, Heaps has never talked to the press about drama. He has never shared gossip or name-called. He has only talked about tactics and how to unlock the challenges of his team's next opponent. His players seem to have bought into that approach, too.
That doesn't mean they won't take into account Kansas City's quality or Sporting Park's hostile environment. But it does suggest that the Revolution have the mental strength to earn a result.
“In this series, it’s like we’re at halftime,” said Revolution goalkeeper Reis. “So we are up 2-1 at halftime and the more goals we have, the more pressure we can put on them. It’s great for us. It’s going to be a tough task going in there and getting a result, but I like our chances.”
FOXBORO, Mass.- The New England Revolution will go into game two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals with an edge. The Revolution beat Sporting Kansas City 2-1 at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night in front of 15,164 in the first leg of the semifinals. Andy Dorman and Kelyn Rowe both scored for the Revolution in the 55th and 67th minutes, respectively, while Kansas City's Aurelien Collin pulled a goal back in the 69th.
It was the Revolution's first playoff victory since Nov. 1, 2009. Dorman's goal marked the end of the Revolution's five-game, 556-minute scoreless run against Sporting Kansas City.
"It's big momentum," said Rowe of the win. "We know we need to get a result there to go to the next round...We still want to go for a win, you never want to shoot for anything less. For us it's going in to get a result like we did today. Fight, and then play."
The three-goal second half contrasted with a first half that saw both teams struggle to connect passes and create chances. Kansas City, however, did have the edge in shots in the first stanza. In the 17th minute, Chance Meyers had is header off a corner kick by Graham Zusi cleared off the line by Lee Nguyen. In the 40th minute, Teal Bunbury went in alone on goal off a long ball by Zusi but shot right at Matt Reis.
"That first half was hard," said Rowe. "Both teams were kind of just dumping it in, hoping for second balls. The game opened up as the second half went through."
In the second half, the Revolution looked more confident in possession. They freed up space for their midfielders, which allowed them to begin using the flank.
The Revolution's first goal came from the space on the flank. Diego Fagundez ran into the the right side of the penalty unmarked and fired a shot at goal that Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen parried away. But the rebound fell to Dorman, who was unmarked one yard from the net and easily poked the ball in for the lead.
"[My goal] kind of settled us down a bit. It was good," added Dorman. "It was good to get the goal, but It's a two-leg series and we have to go again. We know how tough it's going to be going there."
New England doubled their lead moments later. Juan Agudelo played the ball into the center of the offensive third of the field to Nguyen. Nguyen then sent a low pass across the penalty area to Rowe, who fired a shot with the outside of his foot into the back of the net.
"I know Lee can play that ball, so I made the run. I got a little tug so I didn't know if I'd get there with my left foot. I decided to hit it with the outside of my right. I was little worried, I thought it was going to hit the post and not go in."
Kansas City cut the Revolution's lead in half in the 69th minute. A freekick by Chance Meyers found Peterson, who played the ball across the box for Aurelien Collin. Collin, unmarked, slid the pass into the back of the net.
Kansas City's goal greatly lessened the Revolution's advantage ahead of Wednesday's second leg in Kansas City. But were it not for Matt Reis, the Revolution could have lost that edge. He made two saves, the biggest of which was a stop on a point-blank shot from Dominic Dwyer in second half stoppage time."
"It's a huge save...it's Matt Reis, his reflexes are pretty amazing," said Heaps. "I don't think there's been a better goalie in the league that has reflexes like that."
Reis' save keeps the Revolution's aggregate goal lead at 2-1. But the task becomes more difficult with a final clash looming on Sporting Park. The Revolution have never won there and, what's more, Kansas City lost just four times there this season
"It's a step forward, but it's a very difficult road ahead," said Heaps of Saturday night's win. "It's a battle. We have a one goal lead, it's halftime, and we have a big, big battle going into Kansas City."
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The Revolution haven't been to the post-season since 2009. Clinching a berth into this year's playoffs with a 1-0 win over Columbus last Saturday brought about the end of a very long, frustrating road for both the Revolution and their fans.
Seasons 2010, 2011, and 2012 were all characterized by a team that was mostly in over its head. The players in the starting 11 often played like strangers. Questionable transactions became a norm. The team struggled to cope without stars like Taylor Twellman, Steve Ralston, and Shalrie Joseph.
That drought is now over. But it's worth looking back at some history. So, here's my list of the top five Revolution playoff games of all-time.
5. Revolution secure first Cup Final appearance with 2-2 draw with Columbus
Back in 2002, three games were sometimes needed to decide the victor in a playoff series. This was due to the point system used by the league at the time. The Revolution took a 2-0 lead over the Columbus Crew in game three of the Conference Finals at Gillette Stadium thanks to goals from Steve Ralston and Wolde Harris. But the Revolution had to hang on for dear life in the late stages of the game, as goals from Columbus' Brian McBride and Dante Washington, in the 80th and 85th minutes, respectively, produced one of the best late rallies in MLS playoff history. After Washington's goal, Adrian Healey, who was the play-by-play announcer for the Revolution at the time, said: "It ain't over, til it's over." Healey did not end up eating his words, as the Revolution moved onto their first MLS Cup final in team history.
4. Matt Reis saves in 2004
Matt Reis earned his keep in Revolution lore fairly early in his New England career. He took over as starting goalkeeper for Adin Brown in 2004 after being signed from Los Angeles the year before. He was instrumental in game two of the 2004 MLS Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Columbus Crew when he stopped two penalty kicks in regulation time. Ross Paule took the first spot kick early in the game and Reis dove to his left to prevent the shot from going into the back of the net. Late in the second half, Reis dove right to save Tony Sanneh's penalty kick. Taylor Twellman sealed the deal for the Revolution in second half stoppage time when he finished off a play started by Andy Dorman. Revolution 2, Columbus 1. The Revolution were through to the Conference Final.
3. Come from behind against Chicago in 2006
"They didn't jump!" Famous words from Eric Wynalda when the Revolution allowed a freekick goal by Justin Mapp in game one of the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Fire. In game two, the fell behind 2-0 on aggregate due to an early goal by Chicago's Nate Jaqua. Taylor Twellman cut Chicago's lead in half, then Pat Noonan equalized in the second half. The comeback was representative of a team that made a living earning results when they were down but not out in the playoffs. The Revolution took Chicago to extra time, where they defeated the Fire on penalty kicks. Matt Reis, ever the penalty specialist, saved shots from Chicago's Thiago and Ivan Guerrero. He even converted his shot from the spot. Taylor Twellman scored the final shot, rifling the ball past goalkeeper Matt Pickens, to put the Revolution in the Conference Final.
2. Twellman bicycle kick sends Revolution to Cup
The 2007 Eastern Conference Final. To this day, I'm not sure what got talked about more: the fact that the Revolution defeated the Chicago Fire 1-0 at Gillette Stadium to clinch their third straight MLS Cup Final appearance, or the goal that Taylor Twellman scored to do it. Arguably the prettiest playoff goal in league history. Arguably the best bicycle kick in history---well, maybe not the best, but no person in the world would say this goal was bad. Wells Thompson crossed to Twellman, who flicked the ball up to fire a perfect shot into the back of the net past Matt Pickens. Twellman's control on Thompson's cross was sublime. He managed to create time and space for a bicycle kick with two defenders marking him and a goalkeeper that was in a decent enough position to make the save.
1. Snow Battle at Gillette Stadium
It was game two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Gillette Stadium and the Revolution were down 1-0 on aggregate to the New York Metrostars. The plows were out in full force on that 29th of October, 2005. Snow had fallen uncharacteristically early in New England to create one of the most distinct and memorable playoff game atmospheres in league history. Players slipped and slid. Uniforms got muddy. Everyone wore gloves. But the Revolution braved the elements and came out on top despite multiple barriers. The weather, in truth, was the least of the Revolution's concerns. Though the Revolution greatly outplayed the Metrostars, they struggled to score. Referee Brian Hall failed to call a handball in New York's penalty area in the first half. Then, early in the second half, Clint Dempsey fired a shot that clanged off the post. Moments later, New York's Youri Djorkaeff scored on a breakaway to double his team's lead. But the Revolution stormed back to take the series. Goals from Jose Cancela, Pat Noonan, and Khano Smith put the Revolution up 3-2. Nine minutes of extra time were added to the end of the game due to an injury to Smith. The Revolution went down to 10 men because of the injury, but braved the nervy stoppage time period to come out on top. They needed some extra help, however, from Shalrie Joseph, who cleared a header by Djorkaeff off the line late in the game to preserve the Revolution's win.
Have your say: what do you think about these playoff games? Which was your favorite?
They secured their ninth post-season appearance in team history by beating the Columbus Crew 1-0 in Columbus, OH on Sunday evening in the last game of the regular season. Juan Agudelo's seventh goal of the year was the difference for the Revolution, who have earned their first playoff berth since 2009.
In the 27th minute of the game, Agudelo took control of possession outside the penalty area and sent the ball to the right side of the box to Lee Nguyen. Nguyen immediately passed back to Agudelo, who sent a low drive into the back of the net past Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
The Revolution, who have been in a season-long race with five different teams for the fourth and fifth playoff spots in the conference, will finish third in the standings. That's surprising, as they haven't been higher than fourth place all season.
The Revolution will play second-ranked Sporting Kansas City in the two-game, home-and-away Conference Semifinals. The first game will be at Gillette Stadium on either Nov. 2 or 3. New York defeated Chicago 5-2 on Sunday too. That result gave New York the Supporters Shield, the award for the league's best season record, and allowed the Revolution to clinch third place.
New England will enter next weekend's clash with Kansas City on a hot streak. They're on a six-game unbeaten run, have accumulated their second-highest season point total in team history, and completed a full, 3-0-0 sweep of the Columbus Crew.
Against Columbus on Sunday, the Revolution relied heavily on their goalkeeper and defense.
Matt Reis, who ends his 16th season in MLS with an unbeaten 7-0-4 record, confidently commanded his back line and made four saves to keep the Revolution's playoff hopes alive.
He palmed a close-range shor by Dominic Oduro over the crossbar in the third minute after Oduro gained possession outside the penalty area after a giveaway by AJ Soares. But his biggest save came in the 78th minute when he dove to tip away a low drive by Bernardo Anor, who was in alone on Reis off a left-footed cross by Justin Meram.
The Revolution's back line stayed true to the resolute form that has ushered it through the regular season, too. An injury to Chris Tierney (ankle) forced Revolution coach Jay Heaps to go with Kevin Alston at left back. But the makeshift back line was able to close out the win and notch the club's 14th shutout of the regular season.
Agudelo's game-winning goal was against the run of play, but the Revolution came close to scoring multiple times. Andy Dorman flicked a freekick by Kelyn Rowe inches wide of the far post (15th) and Nguyen had a shot on a breakaway tipped wide by Gruenebaum in the second half stoppage time.
The match was a physical midfield battle between two teams who needed to make a statement. The Revolution entered the match needing nothing less than a victory to make the playoffs. Columbus were looking to end the season on a high note by winning their first game since Sept. 29 and spoiling New England's playoff hopes.
Tempers flared. Five players were booked by referee Hilario Grajeda including Oduro, who was red carded in second half stoppage time for a hard tackle on Rowe. That decision wasted a large chunk of the eight minutes of time that were added to the end of the game for substitutions.
Depth has played a big part in the Revolution's success this season and did so again on Sunday. In addition to Alston fitting in for Tierney, Dorman played in central midfield for Scott Caldwell and played a tight two-way game, making the necessary clearances on defense and orchestrating possession in central midfield.
Darrius Barnes made his sixth appearance of the season as well, coming on for an injured Alston in the 74th minute.
Alston's prognosis remains to be seen, though team captain Jose Goncalves, Rowe, and Agudelo all took hard hits in the game. That trio of players played the entirety of the game, though they all stayed down on the turf for a significant amount of time after sustaining their injuries. It's still too early to say what their statuses will be for next weekend's game.
As for tonight, the Revolution will celebrate this long-awaited achievement.
Revolution team president Brian Bilello joined Boston.com to talk about the team and Major League Soccer. Review the discussion below.
FOXBORO, Mass.- There was a time when Andy Dorman's inclusion in the Revolution's starting lineup was a given.
That time is long gone.
But last night, Dorman made a triumphant return to the starting lineup and was involved in all three of the Revolution's goals in their crucial 3-2 victory over the Columbus Crew at Gillette Stadium.
He slotted in for Lee Nguyen in midfield, who was serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation, and drew fouls that led to AJ Soares' goal off a freekick in the 32nd minute plus a penalty kick that Chris Tierney converted in the 69th, and assisted on Diego Fagundez' game-winning goal in the 76th.
"[Nguyen] has been high-standard all season, so filling his boots obviously was difficult," said Dorman after the game. "He is really technical and really good on the ball and has done well this season... I haven’t played too much this season so it was nice to get out there and get the three points."
It's been a bumpy road for Dorman since he re-joined the Revolution last Fall following stints in Scotland and England with St. Mirren, Crystal Palace, and Bristol Rovers. He's made just two starts this season and Saturday night's was his first since a 4-1 loss to New York on Apr. 20.
Consistency from the likes of Scott Caldwell, Lee Nguyen, and Kelyn Rowe has limited Dorman's playing time. He's mostly come into games as a substitute, but hasn't stayed on the field long enough to make a positive difference. Two weeks ago, he came on for Caldwell against New York as a tactical switch but was red carded late in the game for a dangerous tackle.
That was the second time this season that Dorman came into a game and got red carded. But coach Jay Heaps, his former teammate for four years with the Revolution, remained patient.
"For me it was a no-brainer [to start Dorman Saturday]…He played so well in the New York game," said Heaps on Saturday during the post-game press conference. "Against New York, I thought he came in and changed the game and then he got the red card.
"I think he would have been in my plans for Montreal [last week] had he not gotten a red card...Dorman all week trained in there, and to me I really was happy to have a week to train with him, because he really just locked down that middle for us [on Saturday night]."
Dorman's return last Fall was unexpected. Much has changed since he left. Steve Nicol was the coach when he departed, now it's his former teammate Heaps. MLS added five teams and watched David Beckham come and go.
While the league and the Revolution's coach have changed, Dorman's work ethic has not. Ask any of his teammates. They'll say he's continued to train hard and fight for the team despite being relegated to the bench for most of the season.
But on Saturday, Dorman was called upon to be the Revolution's key player again. And even though it had been over half a decade since he put together a pivotal performance with New England, Dorman looked as fresh as ever on Saturday night.
He even told Fagundez to be ready for the pass. "It's going to be a one-timer," was what Dorman told Fagundez.
And a one-timer it was, the pass from Dorman turned into Fagundez' team-leading 13th goal of the season to hand the Revolution a win in front of their biggest crowd of the season and keep their playoff hopes alive.
"He’s put his time in, his work in. I wish I could say more," said Heaps. "There’s so much to say about it, because he works so hard. He won everything in the air that he could get his head to, he controlled the middle, and to me, it showed he was a player that wanted to win it and he was the one who got the game-winning assist.
"It just was a great play. But Andy Dorman, from the time he got here – I don’t know how many years ago, when I was a teammate of his – to this game...you felt very comfortable with Andy Dorman out there."
FOXBORO, Mass.- With their post-season hopes on the line, the Revolution defeated the Columbus Crew 3-2 in a seesaw battle at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night.. A season-high crowd of 26,458 watched as AJ Soares, Chris Tierney, and Diego Fagundez all scored to off-set goals from Columbus' Dominic Oduro and Aaron Schoenfeld.
The Crew equalized two times. But for the Revolution, the third goal was the charm.
"Both teams risked a lot for the win," said Revolution coach Jay Heaps. "That's why the game was wide open. Credit Columbus. They had an excellent second half and every time we seemed to step ahead, they pounded back."
Andy Dorman made his first start since March 16, filling in for a suspended Lee Nguyen, and assisted on the decisive strike. In the 76th minute, he collected possession on the left side of the penalty area and squared the ball to Fagundez, who poked the feed into the back of the net past a helpless Matt Lampson for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
"The bigger the crowd, the bigger the moment, Diego rises to the occasion," added Heaps. "He never gets silent...He gets quiet and we couldn't find him in that transition break but he just kept going and he just knows how to score when he gets some time."
That goal eliminated the Crew from playoff contention while keeping the Revolution's chances alive. New England, who are currently in the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, will play their last game of the season next weekend at Columbus.
On Saturday, four goals were scored in a 17-minute span in the second half. That contrasted greatly with a first half that was completely dominated by the Revolution. New England out-shot Columbus 6-1 in the first stanza and controlled over half the possession.
Soares became the 12th Revolution player to score a goal this season when he headed in a freekick by Kelyn Rowe in the 32nd minute. Dorman was involved in that goal, too, as he drew the foul to earn the set piece. Rowe picked out Soares with a right-footed cross, his eighth assist of the season.
"It's already playoff atmosphere, we had to get to win," said Soares. "I want to score all the time. It was all about the ball. Kelyn Rowe put the ball perfect, I didn't have to do much."
The Revolution had to count on their various goalscorers as the game wore on. At halftime, Columbus substituted Schoenfeld for Ethan Finlay, a switch which changed the game.
Schoenfeld added energy, pace, and made the key pass in the final third. All of that was missing with Finlay on the field and it changed Columbus into a more dangerous team.
Schoenfeld's first contribution was assisting on Oduro's goal in the 59th minute. He sent the ball into space on the right side of the penalty area, Oduro running onto the pass and firing a shot over the hands of Matt Reis and into the goal for his 13th strike of the season.
With their post-season lives on the line, the Revolution pressed forward. In the 68th minute, Rowe ran into the penalty area, rounded Lampson, and managed to get the ball to Dorman, who was only yards from the near post. Dorman took one touch before Tony Tchani dragged him down in the box, prompting referee Mark Geiger to award a penalty kick.
Without Nguyen, the Revolution's usual penalty kick taker, Tierney stepped up to take the shot. Tierney was one for one on penalty kicks until that point, as he scored in the shootout of the 2008 Superliga final against Houston. Tierney would convert from the spot again, left-footing a low drive past a diving Lampson at the left post.
The Revolution's second lead wouldn't stand, however. The Crew equalized again via Schoenfeld, who quieted the crowd with a volley from the top of the box that flew into the upper corner of the net past a diving Reis in the 71st minute.
It was Fagundez who would be the hero. At halftime, an announcement came over the stadium PA system that he had been voted the team's season MVP. A few minutes before the end of the game, Fagundez showed why he deserved that honor with a goal that keeps the Revolution's season alive. Dorman gift-wrapped the pass on the play, but it was Fagundez' positioning in front of the net that made the finish easy.
"You have to be there at the right moment. Something might not go your way and all of a sudden you get a goal. Andy told me, 'it's going to be one-timer' so look at him he plays the ball into the box, and it's first-time."
"I wasn't expecting at such a young age to get named MVP of the team," said Fagundez. "I'm very glad and thankful for the fans."
After Fagundez' goal, the Revolution re-grouped. Tierney sat down on the turf and clutched his right ankle, prompting Geiger to bring medical support onto the field. Tierney left the game for Kevin Alston, but the break in play allowed the Revolution to mentally prepare themselves for the final minutes of the game.
Heaps tried to further bolster his team's lead by making bringing on Stephen McCarthy for Scott Caldwell in the 80th minute. Adding McCarthy gave the Revolution a full foot in height to defend against the Crew's more direct play. And though McCarthy has played in defense for the last two seasons, he entered the league as a midfielder out of North Carolina. McCarthy did fine bossing the center of the pitch alongside Dorman to close out the lead.
Matt Reis, who has yet to lose a game this season, finished the game with five saves. And the Revolution, who are now on a five-game unbeaten run, are clicking at the right time.
If they win at Columbus next weekend in the regular season finale, they'll have a decent chance of clinching their first playoff berth since 2009. Entering the post-season on a positive run could be key.
"We want to make the playoffs," added Fagundez. "Every player knows the number one thing is making the playoffs. We need points right now and we have one more game where we play them again so we're going to go in there and fight them again."
World Cup hosts Brazil, defending champions Spain, plus Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, and Switzerland are all guaranteed a place in Pot 1 for the World Cup draw on Dec. 6, FIFA announced today.
Uruguay, currently ranked sixth in the world, needs to beat Jordan in an inter-continental playoff in order to clinch Pot 1 status.
If Uruguay were to lose to Jordan, the eighth and final spot in Pot 1 would be awarded to either Holland or Italy.
There are four different pots at the World Cup draw, all containing eight teams. Pot 1 contains the tournament's host, plus the seven best teams in the world according to the Oct. 17 FIFA World Rankings.
The other three pots are divided based on geography in order to avoid continental clashes at the World Cup. This prevents there being two African countries in the same group, for example. Because 13 European teams qualify for the World Cup, continental clashes among European teams are almost unavoidable.
Many teams are in Pot 1 for this World Cup that haven't been in decades- or ever. Switzerland made its way into Pot 1 after jumping into seventh place in the world from 14th. Meanwhile, Belgium has experienced a renaissance in soccer in the last four years and finished first in its qualification group, unsurprisingly putting it in Pot 1.
Uruguay has done a fine job of competing in South America's even field throughout qualification and has been within the top 10 of the World Rankings since the last World Cup. Colombia has had similar prosperity, though it finished second in South American qualification which is why it's ranked fourth.
With Brazil qualifying automatically as hosts, Holland, ranked eighth, got bumped out of Pot 1.
The US was believed to have a shot at cracking Pot 1, but was unable to compete with European and South American teams with tougher schedules. The US did finish atop CONCACAF's qualification with seven wins, but its most recent wins against Panama and Jamaica didn't carry enough weight to push it into the top 10. The US remains in 13th, their highest rank since being 4th in Apr. 2006.
Revolution's Sene undergoes ankle surgery
Saer Sene had surgery on his left ankle on Wednesday. He will miss the rest of the 2013 season and will be out for at least six months.
Surgery consisted of repairing his broken left fibula and stabilizing his dislocated ankle.
Sene has notched five goals and five assists this season. Reports from France earlier this summer said he might sign for a French team in the off-season.
Two Brandeis coaches honored
Brandeis University men's soccer coach Mike Coven and women's soccer coach Denise Dallamora were honored earlier this week for 75 years of combined service to the school. Coven has coached the Judges for 41 years while Dallamora is in her 34th year.
Coven led Brandeis to a national title in 1976. Some of his former students include Cleveland Lewis, Jim McCully, and Shawn Oliver.
Dallamora began the women's soccer program in 1980. She's led the Judges to the NCAA tournament twice.
Coven is the most tenured Head Coach among Massachusetts' college soccer teams. Lasell College's Giovanni Pacini, who has coached there for 32 years, is the second-most tenured. He beats out Dallamora by one year.
Last Saturday, the 1984 men's soccer team, which finished second in the NCAA tournament, was inducted into Brandeis' Athletic Hall of Fame.
They're in prime position to do so, just one point out of playoff position with two games left.
According to the website Sports Club Stats, the Revolution have 97.7 percent chance of playing into November if they sweep the Columbus Crew in their final two games of the season.
Here's just one breakdown of what the Eastern Conference might look like (upset free).
Now, have your say.
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