Supporters and fans at Gillette Stadium (2020)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution II kicks off its third season on Sunday evening with a visit to Northeast Division foe New York City FC II (5 p.m. ET, streaming on MLSNEXTPro.com), but in some ways the 2022 campaign feels like a new beginning for the Revolution’s second team.

Most notably, Revolution II will be playing in an entirely new league. After spending their first two years of existence as part of USL League One, Revs II now joins 19 other MLS affiliates – and one independent club, Rochester New York FC – in the newly-formed MLS NEXT Pro, a league designed specifically to complete the pro player pathway from MLS NEXT academies all the way to first team rosters. Eight more MLS-affiliated teams will join the league in 2023, along with additional independent clubs.

The league itself will bring a certain amount of change – there will be no draws, for instance, as all regular season deadlocks will be broken by a penalty shootout – but another significant development for the upcoming season will be the presence of fans at Gillette Stadium, where Revolution II played their home matches without supporters in 2020 and 2021. For the first time in Revs II history, they’ll play a home match with fans in attendance when they host Rochester on Sunday, April 3 (6 p.m. ET, TICKETS).

“I think it’s really important for us having fans,” said Damian Rivera, who led Revolution II with six goals last season while also making his first-team debut with the Revs in August. “I think it’ll motivate us in a way to have fans in the stadium now, and I think it’ll push us throughout the year.”

“It’s going to be great,” added Noel Buck, one of two players to appear in all 28 of Revolution II’s games last season before signing with the first team in January. “Playing in front of fans is just really fun, and I think it’s really important to the team to get that motivation to really try to win the game. I think it’s going to be vital to have fans.”

Supporters will no doubt provide a boost as Revolution II makes a push for the first-ever MLS NEXT Pro championship, but there’s also a developmental aspect to having fans in the stands, according to head coach Clint Peay. The ability to navigate professional environments and perform under the pressure of watchful eyes will be important attributes as players aim to continue rising through the Revolution’s player pathway.

“I think [it’ll be] terrific for our guys,” Peay said of Revolution II games being open to the public. “It’s always exciting when you walk into a stadium and there’s people there to cheer for you and to root you on and give you that extra lift from the get-go.

“The ability to play in front of fans, I think, also adds to the pressure that players have to deal with if they want to make it to the next level. I think it will be a wonderful opportunity.”

Revolution II games will also be a wonderful opportunity for fans of the first team to get a sneak peek at the future of the club, with Academy graduates like Buck (16 years old) and Rivera (19) expected to play major roles. Current first teamers Jon Bell, Maciel, and Ryan Spaulding all began their New England tenures with Revolution II – highlighting the effectiveness of the pathway – while several current Academy players will also feature throughout the season.

If you’re a Revolution Season Member, you already have tickets to see Revolution II in 2022. All current Season Members will receive three complimentary general admission “flex tickets” per season seat on their account, while individual game tickets cost $10 and the entire 12-game season ticket package is priced at $84. Tickets for Revolution II matches are available through Ticketmaster.