FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – As he drove past Gillette Stadium on Thursday afternoon – arriving at the Socios.com Training Center for a team meeting and exit physicals following Tuesday night’s premature playoff exit at the hands of New York City FC – New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner couldn’t help but wonder what might have been.
Turner had been blown away by the atmosphere for that Eastern Conference Semifinal, and as he drove through Foxborough his mind drifted towards the potential Eastern Conference Final and MLS Cup – both of which would’ve been at Gillette Stadium these next two weekends had the Revs advanced – and how extraordinary those environments would’ve, could’ve, should’ve been.
“It hurts my heart because driving back today and going past the stadium, knowing what it would have been like in the next round, and then the round after that, that crowd would have just doubled and tripled in size,” Turner said. “That’s the hard part. It really feels like a massive letdown, and it hurts my heart. It really does.”
Tuesday night’s crowd wasn’t the biggest of the season – New England had a pair of regular season games that topped the attendance of 25,509 – but it was without question the most electric. While a third-minute goal from the visitors momentarily stunned the Foxborough faithful, they responded in full voice to spur the Revolution’s immediate response, Adam Buksa’s perfectly-placed header in the ninth minute.
And when Tajon Buchanan buried his 118th-minute equalizer – briefly rescuing the Revolution’s season and sending the game to a penalty shootout in the most dramatic fashion – the crowd’s guttural response felt for a moment as if it might reduce Gillette Stadium to rubble.
“It was incredible,” said Turner. “Honestly, you could feel the energy in the air. The crowd, everyone who was there, wanted to be there. They were all into the chants, it was loud, it was a tough environment for New York City to play in. I know that when we went down goals, the fans sort of lifted us up and then we were able to fight back to get into the game.”
While the ecstasy of Buchanan’s goal was short-lived, it did provide one last magical moment in a magical season, and gave Revolution players and fans something to grasp onto as they turn their attention to the 2022 season, just a couple of short months away.