FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution closed out the regular season in bittersweet fashion on Sunday evening at Gillette Stadium, falling 1-0 to Inter Miami CF, but also lifting the club's first-ever league trophy as the team hoisted the Supporters' Shield.
Raising the Shield whet the squad’s appetite for an even bigger accomplishment that could come at the end of their historic campaign if they advance to and win MLS Cup.
Conversely, the loss to Miami served as a reminder of the frustration that comes with a disappointing defeat – a feeling that the Revolution do not want to revisit in the postseason.
“I should go over and bring some beers over to the Miami locker room because they gave us a good practice game for the playoffs,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “I think this is very similar to a playoff game and we fell short. So, that’s a good lesson for us.
“We can understand why and there’s certainly some things we could’ve done better tonight, but for the most part, we had a good effort tonight. It wasn’t like it was a bad performance. We gave up a goal that was a little unfortunate and we missed some chances.”
New England suffered just five losses this season with their record-breaking 22-5-7 record. With each fall, they have come back stronger.
“We need to be a little bit more ruthless on the attacking end and on the defensive end,” said Tommy McNamara. “We had chances to score goals and we didn't take them. We didn't really give up too many chances, but the one chance or the couple of chances that we gave up they ended up scoring. So, this is what it's going to be in the playoffs.”
In a scoreless first half, the Revs put three of their eight shots on target and narrowly missed taking a 1-0 lead as Carles Gil's free kick came close to putting the hosts on top. Although the Revs totaled 16 shots on the night - and saw an apparent Gustavo Bou goal negated by an offside call - they could not ultimately put one in the back of the net.
“A lesson we learned tonight is that we better finish our chances and that’s always been the playoffs,” said Arena. “They’re tight games. They’re intense.
“Playoff games aren’t going to be 5-0. They’re going to be one-goal games.”
The Revs take that sentiment and will now channel it in their preparations for the playoffs.
“[Our attention changes] pretty quickly,” said Henry Kessler. “I think it's going to be tonight, then tomorrow's off, and then Tuesday we'll get back after it. I think by then the focus will already have shifted and we'll have some time before that game, with the international break and then the [Round One] bye. After tomorrow, I think the focus really shifts.”
As the Supporters' Shield winners, New England will have a first-round bye and play the winner of the Atlanta United FC at New York City FC game on either November 25 or 30.
The team’s only objective come that match is to grind out a win, and ultimately, with a one-game-at-a-time mentality, they will keep their eyes locked on MLS Cup.
“I know our team [wants to win],” said Arena. “Yeah, that’s the goal, certainly. It’s going to be challenging, like it is every year for every team. Hopefully, we’ll have our team ready.
“I assume the league will announce the schedule tonight, is my guess. I could be mistaken by that, but we’ll have a better idea obviously later today or tomorrow on the schedule and we have to work to get our team ready. We’re playing the winner of Atlanta and New York City. I saw that. So, you know, we’ll be prepared for that.”