FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Gillette Stadium has long been a stronghold for the New England Revolution as they built Fortress Foxborough into one of the most difficult road venues in all of Major League Soccer, going 49-16-20 at home between 2014 and 2018.
But that reputation had slipped a bit in recent seasons as the Revolution’s 8-5-4 home record in 2019 was their worst in six years, before they struggled to a 2-3-5 mark in Foxborough in the pandemic-marred 2020 campaign.
As such, Bruce Arena has made improved home form a point of emphasis in 2021.
“We harped on it a lot, that we need to make this place tough to play at,” said Matt Polster. “Our goal is to always be really competitive here and pick up a majority of our wins here.”
New England has responded to that call in emphatic fashion by winning their first three home games for the first time since 2005, a mark that includes Sunday night’s dramatic 1-0 victory over the defending MLS Cup champion Columbus SC to send the Revs back to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
Dating back to last year – and including the playoffs – the Revs have now won five straight at Gillette Stadium, all by a single goal, as they’ve found a way to make Foxborough a fortress once again.
“You have to have a home-field advantage here at Gillette, and I think we do,” said Arena. “We had a new field this year that allows you to play better. I think it’s really been helpful for us.”
Polster also referenced the new artificial surface at Gillette Stadium as a benefit for the Revs, while the return of fans – even in a limited capacity – has provided a much-needed spark to bolster the home form.
“I think with turf playing a factor, teams aren’t used to it, so we needed to make sure that when people come here, they’re not comfortable,” Polster said. “I thought we did that really well today and I thought Columbus struggled to create good chances, and I thought we had a bunch of chances. I had a good chance at scoring. I thought we created a lot of good chances today, so we deserved to win.”
Sunday night’s victory wasn’t without drama as Adam Buksa came off the bench to grab an 86th-minute winner, but it was enough to see the Revs maintain their perfect home record and join the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC as the only sides in MLS with three home wins.
“Any team in the league would tell you that you have to win your home games, and you’ve got to pick up points on the road during the year,” said Arena. “It’s a good start at home, and that’s an important aspect to being successful over a 34-game schedule.”