Commentary

Revs' locals ready to make history

By Paul Kennedy
(@pkedit)

The New England Revolution enters MLS Cup with the worst record in league history. It's lost all four finals it's played. Head coach Jay Heaps knows the history well. He played in all four games.

Not that he uses it in motivating his players for Sunday's game against the LA Galaxy.

"They are not even related," he says. "Teams are living, breathing organisms. Every final, every game is different."

But three of starters know all about the Revs and their hard-luck history. Charlies Davies (Manchester, New Hampshire), Chris Tierney (Boston) and Scott Caldwell (Weymouth, Massachusetts) were all born and grew up in New England.

Davies can recite the low points: "Pando Ramirez scoring the golden goal [for the Galaxy in 2005], Taylor Twellman scoring [in the 113rd minute for the Revs], and Brian Ching scoring seconds later [114th minute for Houston, which went on to win in a shootout in 2006] and thinking, "Man, they can't get a break.'"

They all followed the team for years. Caldwell recalls following the Revs in the first season of the league. He was only 5. He went to the 2002 final at Gillette Stadium. "Big crowd," he recalls. (The first Revs' final -- also against the Galaxy -- was watched by 61,316, an MLS Cup record.) "I watched all of the games when Jay was playing, Taylor Twellman was playing, [Revs general manager] Mike Burns, Shalrie Joseph [now back as a reserve on the team], so it's pretty cool I'm playing."

Davies was at all the regular-season games, but not the 2002 final. "I don't think my family could afford those tickets," he says. His career took him first to Europe -- Sweden and then France -- out of college at Boston College, but he says he's always been been an avid MLS fan, following the Revs and friends from his youth and national teams in MLS. "I feel like I've been a part of this league since it started," he says.

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Heaps downplays the Revs' history -- though he admits it was one of the deciding factors in his decision to give up a promising career as a broker at Morgan Stanley to return to the Revs as head coach in 2012 -- but his New Englanders find motivation in the past.

"It is very significant," says Davies, "especially being a local boy. I always looked up to the New England Revolution players and always wanted to play for the New England Revolution, especially watching them in MLS Cup." His heroes were Twellman, Joseph and goalkeeper Matt Reis (now the Galaxy's goalkeeper coach). "It's an honor to have a chance to bring a championship back to New England," he says. "The franchise deserves it."

For Tierney, the Revs were an important part of his childhood. "I spent a lot of my childhood going to the old Foxboro Stadium,"he says."I always would take opportunities to go to clinics, spent my birthdays at Revs' games. It's a dream come true to play for them." His heroes too were Revs' players. "I don't think the league was quite what it is today," he says, "so the players were pretty accessible."

Tierney is a big New England sports fan ("I was a huge Patriots' fan -- season-ticket holder -- and I make it to a lot of Bruins games"), so he knows the place the Revs had and have in the world of New England sports. "Boston is a great soccer community, somewhat untapped," he says. He says he's not surprised at the strong support for the Revs of late -- crowds of more than 30,000 for the final regular-season game and the second leg of the Eastern Conference final.

"It's just the result of us putting a better product on the field," he says. "Boston fans are pretty fickle. They like winners. They've proven that when you're winning, they will show up. That's just the way it is in Boston and something I accept and we accept as a team."

Boston has always been a big four sports town. Davies, Tierney and Caldwell want to turn their hometown into a big five sports town.

"It's always been about the Celtics, the Patriots, the Red Sox and Bruins," Tierney says, "so to be mentioned with those unbelievable franchises means a lot. It just shows how much the sport has grown."

Six years after being appointed the captain of the first Revs' academy team, Caldwell at 23 is looking forward to MLS Cup.

"Being a local boy, it means a little but more," he admits. "Friends and family have been real supportive of the team. It's all I can ask. I'll try to win a championship for the fans back home."
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