Crowd shot of The Fort fans 2016
Tim Bouwer

Fortress Foxborough: “We have to make it tough for every team that comes here”

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The boys are back.

It’s been four-and-a-half months since the New England Revolution closed out their 2016 campaign with a 3-0 win over the Montreal Impact at Gillette Stadium, but they’ll finally return to Foxborough on Saturday afternoon, kicking off their home slate against Orlando City SC (2 p.m., TICKETS).

The forecast calls for bitter cold in New England this weekend, with highs in the low 20s, but that doesn’t mean the Revs are any less excited about playing in front of their home fans, and there’s a sense that the freezing temperatures will simply add to the Revolution’s home-field advantage.

“People in Boston, they love the cold,” said Kei Kamara, who’s ready for his first home opener with the Revolution after arriving midseason in 2016. “They come out to support the teams when it’s cold weather. I can’t wait.”

New England relied heavily upon their home form in 2016, as nine of their 11 victories came at Gillette Stadium. Their 9-4-4 home record last year was tied for second-best in the Eastern Conference.

With home teams continuing to hold a significant upper hand in MLS – the top six teams in the league last year combined for just 10 home losses – the Revs know that they need to maximize points in Foxborough, starting on Saturday afternoon.

“We’ve got to win our home games this year,” said Chris Tierney, who’s kicking off his 10th season in New England. “We expect to take three points every time we play in front of our fans. That’s no different this time of year than it is in September or October.”

“The reality is that the teams that do well in MLS are the teams winning at home,” said head coach Jay Heaps, who’ll coach in his sixth home opener.

While the Revs haven’t won a home opener since 2012 – they’ve played to four consecutive 0-0 draws the past four years, largely influenced by the weather – they finished the 2016 campaign very strong, winning their final four games in Foxborough while outscoring opponents by a margin of 11-2.

Now the Revs will be hoping to carry that form into 2017, and they know that one of the biggest factors will be the support they receive from the stands.

“We have to go into these games knowing that we have to make it tough for every team that comes here this year,” said Kamara. “If we’re mentally ready and mentally prepared, and we have our fans to back us up, definitely this is going to be a tough place for any team to come take points.”