There are plenty of reasons to love the 2014 New England Revolution.
For starters, the club’s roster is littered with some of the most exciting young talent in MLS. Diego Fagundez, who finished fifth on the league’s scoring chart last season with 13 goals and seven assists, just turned 19 years old. Kelyn Rowe (seven goals and eight assists in 2013) is garnering consideration as a dark horse MVP candidate at 22 years old. And folks are discussing when 21-year-old defender Andrew Farrell is going to get his first look with the U.S. National Team.
Scott Caldwell is 22 years old, as are rookies Steve Neumann and Patrick Mullins. Teal Bunbury (24) and Lee Nguyen (27) are considered the veterans of New England’s attacking corps, despite still being in their mid-20s. This is a team – already an experienced playoff side, mind you – on the rise.
And the Revolution’s roster isn’t just young; it’s dynamic. The free-flowing style Jay Heaps has instilled during his first two years is expected to continue in 2014, with many neutral MLS fans seeking out Revolution matches each weekend to enjoy the club’s electrifying brand of soccer. Did you see Rowe’s game-winning goal against Chicago in a preseason match last week? How could you not be excited?
But there’s more to this New England Revolution squad than creative attackers and resolute defenders. It’s something else entirely which has me cheering hard for this team to succeed; something personal.
As I sat next to Bunbury on a flight from Tucson to Dallas this past weekend, I was immediately struck by his genuine nature. He wasn’t just cordial; he was pleasant. Basically, he’s just a good dude.
And I started to think about all the “good dudes” on the Revolution’s roster. There was the conversation I’d had with Mullins while heading through security at the airport. A quick chat with Neumann and Alec Sundly while taking the tram to our connection in Dallas. The banter with Fagundez and Stephen McCarthy, the duo I sat between on the flight from Dallas to Boston. The list goes on.
Scanning the club’s roster in my head, I realized pretty quickly that the 2014 New England Revolution is chock full of guys who are incredibly easy to support. These are guys you want to see succeed. Guys you can be proud to cheer on. And for me, that makes supporting the Revs even more fulfilling.
I realize many fans don’t get to know the players on a personal level, but we’ll do everything we can this season to bring you the personality behind this team, because to know these guys is to love them. Supporting a club is fun, but supporting the people is special.
So when the Revs kick off the 2014 season on Saturday night against the Houston Dynamo, I’ll be hoping it’s the start of another successful campaign and perhaps even an MLS Cup run. And while I’ll always support the Revs, that support will mean more because of who I’m supporting.