The New England Revolution’s 2016 season started in thrilling and high-scoring fashion Sunday, when a last-second cross from Revs wunderkind Diego Fagundez found the noggin of midfielder Daigo Kobayashi to secure a 3-3 draw.
But opening weekend began on a less celebratory note for the club. The Revolution placed dead last on a Sports Illustrated list released Friday, ranking the ambitions of the 20 Major League Soccer teams.
The list takes a number of factors into account, writes its compiler, SI soccer guru Grant Wahl. He considered the extent to which ownership publicly speaks about the importance of winning, the club’s willingness to bring in top-end talent, whether it has its own soccer stadium, and more.
Wahl points primarily to the stadium piece as the reason for the Revs’ place on the list.
He starts his description of the Revs by praising the team’s player development process, saying success in that area has helped guide recent on-field achievement.
“But this bottom-feeder ranking has to do with essentially one thing: No real progress on an urban stadium that this team desperately needs,’’ Wahl writes. “At least D.C. United got the stadium approved. The Revolution? Who knows how long it will take? I know that owner Jonathan Kraft cares about his team, but it’s time to get some results on a stadium. These fans deserve it.’’
The Kraft family, which owns the Revolution and the New England Patriots, has spoken for at least 10 years about its desire to open an urban soccer-specific stadium near public transit, which would represent a move from its suburban Gillette Stadium home. Cities are considered more fertile for soccer fans, and fans say smaller stadiums create a better atmosphere than cavernous football venues that seat nearly 70,000.
Wahl also sent a questionnaire to the 20 teams asking for information about their operations, media coverage, and more. The Revolution’s answers can be seen here and include details about growth in the club’s season ticket sales and staffing.
The Krafts’ commitment to the team has been questioned before. In 2014, a Boston magazine feature criticized the Krafts as “the worst owners in the league,’’ drawing a contrast with their stewardship of the Patriots.
The team may have softened that perception some later that year when it brought in U.S. National Team player Jermaine Jones, signing him to a big contract after an impressive World Cup showing. Jonses’s addition sparked a run to the 2014 MLS Cup final.
The midfielder’s contract expired after last season and the relationship did not end well. The team traded his rights to the Colorado Rapids on Friday after a protracted contract dispute.
As for the stadium? The Revs have been in discussions with state and city officials, with interest in a parcel of land on the South Boston-South End border. The Krafts in 2014 also enlisted the help of Goldman Sachs to devise possible financing plans.
But there has been little new information about the plan in recent months, aside from pledges that the club is working on it.
The Revolution did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the team’s place on the list.
Read the full rankings—which place the LA Galaxy at No. 1—at SI.