FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A somber feeling lingers in Foxborough following the New England Revolution’s early elimination from the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs after falling to New York City FC on Tuesday night.
The Revs’ record-breaking MLS season, procuring the most points in league history (73) and winning the club’s first-ever Supporters' Shield, is still historic, but the team didn’t secure the storybook ending they had hoped for by cementing their success by also winning MLS Cup.
“The overarching theme is that it's a great season, one to be very proud of, but maybe we didn't do enough on the night to beat New York City FC, who's a very good team, who we always thought was the best team that we were going to play in the entirety of the playoffs,” said goalkeeper Matt Turner. “We knew that if we got through that game, we would have had a pretty good chance at an MLS Cup.
“It's frustrating because we battled back twice and got ourselves into a position to win the game, but we unfortunately couldn't get the job done in the penalty shootout, and that's the sad part -- a tough pill to swallow.”
Erasing a deficit twice over 120 minutes and falling in heartbreaking fashion in a penalty shootout was not how the Revs envisioned their run would end. However, it is the reality, and in order to move past it, the squad needs to let the sorrow settle for the time being.
“[Bruce Arena] was disappointed for us, he was sad for us, and he was very proud of us as well for how hard we did work in the game,” said Turner.
“Early in the game getting that sucker punch and fighting back quickly, and then in the second half of extra time and then fighting back again. So, he was proud. How could you not be proud of that team for really going for it, for really battling all through the entire game up until the last minute?
“I'm disappointed in myself for not being the player I know I can be in the clutch moments and in the playoff games, and that one really hurt my heart. So, I'll look at myself in the mirror a bit, get back to work, and next season I'm going to show up ready to go and give these fans something to be proud of again.”
A new chapter starts quickly in 2022 though, and while the Revs are letting the sting of how their historic campaign ended sink in, they are eager to get back to work to give the fans something to be proud of again.
“I think the first thing we're all going to do is just rest and sort of reflect on the season,” said Gustavo Bou. “It was a great year. It was a great year collectively and individually. We had a lot of players who played at a really high level this past season.
“I think we all know that we need to rest and really enjoy making the most of the offseason because next year we have games coming up pretty quickly, when they get back in there for that competition, we need to be ready and hopefully try and be ready for what our coach sees for us next season.”
While the Revs will open their new MLS campaign at the Portland Timbers on February 26, 2022, it will not be their first match of the year.
As the Supporters' Shield winners, New England earned a berth to the 2022 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, which after a draw on December 15, will play its first leg between February 15-17.
“We have a quick offseason and we're right back into it,” said Turner. “We're going to play in [Concacaf Champions League], which will be great for us and it'll be a lot of our guys on our teams first experiences playing in Central America, and so it's going to be exciting times for the future of this club.”
Looking to next year, there is a hopeful sentiment echoing throughout the squad, as they are motivated to embark on this new challenge.
“It's time to rest and pick up energy for the next season, which will be an important year for the club with international games and competitions,” said Bou. “We need to be prepared. It's going to be a nice opportunity, a nice moment for the club, but it's going to be a difficult one, as well.
“We have to prepare to be ready for the next season. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off and continue next year.”