FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – For the past 414 days Gillette Stadium has continued to be the New England Revolution’s home venue, but it has been noticeably different. It has unquestionably been missing an integral part of what makes Foxborough so special.
The stands have been eerily quiet. Supporters haven’t sat in the seats of Gillette Stadium since last year’s home opener on March 7 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the Revs haven’t heard the sounds of their fans cheering when they’ve scored a goal or made an incredible save, and they've also missed the beloved songs and chants that are part of the fabric of the club.
After more than a full year, that will change for the 2021 Revolution home opener on Saturday night against D.C. United, as the Revs will finally welcome back the loyal fans that are truly the lifeblood of this club.
"It's going to be special. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it right now. I definitely miss that," Matt Turner said with a smile.
“I'm really looking forward to reconnecting, reestablishing that bond, and making Gillette Stadium a place again where [opposing teams] don't want to come and play and where we get good results ... Hopefully [the fans] bring the noise.”
The Revs felt the lack of fans in 2020 as they went 3-3-4 at home without supporters in the building, but as they return for the 2021 campaign, it will be a game changer for the players to put them in a better competitive position for this year’s postseason.
“They always support us no matter what,” said Andrew Farrell. “Obviously last year was a fun run [in the playoffs] and we’re excited to have that run again, but in front of our own fans and play a lot of home games this year.”
While Revolution veterans have met and created strong bonds with supporters, there are still many players who joined since last season that have yet to play a game in front New England’s crowd.
“It’s weird to come to a new team and to not really be able to interact with the supporters at all,” said Tommy McNamara, who joined the Revs via trade last August. “They’ve been great on social media even though I'm not super active on it, but I’m very much looking forward to representing the Revs and playing here [with them] at Gillette.”
With 12% capacity of Gillette Stadium filled due to state protocols, there may be physically less fans in the building, but their presence, support and loud voices will be more noticeable and distinct than ever before.
“It was pretty difficult playing at home without any fans, and we knew the circumstances,” said Teal Bunbury. “I think the fans obviously understood as well of health and safety and whatnot. But knowing that fans are going to be back in the stands, I think that's so uplifting for the guys, another motivating factor.
“The Fort is going to be rocking. I think we're really looking forward to it, and it can't come soon enough.”
As the fans will bring the energy and noise, the team aims to salute the supporters with three points against D.C.
"It’ll definitely be very emotional for us,” Gustavo Bou said via translator. “It’ll be great for us to be there and do what we enjoy doing most, knowing that the fans will be there supporting us. We miss them a lot.
“I’m anxiously waiting for our first home game to be able to enjoy the experience with our fans. It’s been a long time since we’ve been with them. Hopefully everything’s positive and we can give the fans a win.”