Revolution

Different strokes

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Different strokes

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
I was at Gillette Stadium Wednesday.

Not for football, but ftbol. Manchester United vs. New England Revolution.

It was an unlikely draw for me. I know next to nothing about soccer. I might be the only kid in my hometown who didn't play pee wee. I only watched the rivalry games during high school. And I saw UConn live just once, when the Big East championship was on the line.

I remember that 2,511 fans was considered "raucous."

Over 51,000 gathered for the 2011 World Football Challenge. The home of the Patriots initially appeared unchanged. A familiar wave of red, white and blue apparel rolled through the concourse and broke at each concession stand. But a few details were off. Fans draped allegiances around their necks that July night with colorful scarves. The names on jerseys were disorienting: Giggs, Macheda, Ferdinand, Berbatov, Rooney . . . wait.

Rooney. He's the crazy redhead on England's World Cup team. I know that name!

And that was it.

"I feel like a fraud," I mumbled.

Traffic foiled my plans to go home and change after work. My floral dress labeled me lost; my bright yellow cardigan screamed it. I went to the game -- my first Revolution experience -- to see Manchester United. Though disconnected from that region of the sports world, I've realized through incidental contact that Man U deserves respect. At some point, a SportsCenter highlight or my Sports Illustrated subscription told me this is a good team, a really good team.

The Reds won their 19th Premier League title in May to become the most successful club in English football history. Even with the compete level ratcheted down to "friendly," an opportunity to see them live in the U.S. was irresistible. The team's roster is consistently stocked with global talent, the best from England, Denmark, Senegal, Yugoslavia, Brazil, Ireland, South Korea, Bulgaria. United's glamor stopped me short when I saw a team jersey, "C. Ronaldo" stitched across the back.

"Ronaldo? Like, Cristiano Ronaldo?" I asked, stupidly proud at identifying one of the biggest names in sports. "Isn't he the captain of Team Portugal? Why did he play in the English Premier League?"

Answer: If you can, you will.

My interest in understanding why was enough to ignore the rain for a few hours.

You know what I learned? Friendly matches are weird.

I expected Man U to be booed during introductions. That's the standard. You turn your back as the roster is read, pretend to read a newspaper, scream 'SUCKS' after every name, or just . . . boo. That's the sports reality I've lived. Had I done any of that last night, I would have looked like a raging jerk. The Reds had more popular players than the Revs. Rooney turned out to be the Even-I-Know-That-Guy player for all 51,000 and received the heartiest roar of the night. The first good chance on goal, created by Man U, made the crowd in Foxboro go wild.

It made me wonder.

Are they really trying?

New England was supposed to get crushed. Just demolished. "Like if the Red Sox starters played Portland," a co-worker guessed.

So how hard was United pushing? Nobody likes to lose, I know that. I can just imagine the pregame pressers: "We're taking this seriously," Macheberbanand or whoever would say. "We want to win just like any other match." Yeah, okay. I'll buy that.

But on a scale of "We Showed Up" to "Liverpool is in Town," where did United's effort fall Wednesday night?

I felt silly to have no idea.

My brain went into hyperdrive when the halftime score showed nil-nil.

Are the Revs really excited right now? Is Sir Alex Ferguson bawling out his team on the other side? Or is Man U just toying with our innocent MLS babes? Will the Premier League's champion take the gloves off and enact second-half slaughter? Is the offsides rule similar to the NHL's? How do they play without red lines? Are there zones? What language am I hearing from the fans behind me? Is it Bulgarian? Does "wanker" mean what I think it means?

The reason soccer fascinates me might be the reason why so many Americans hate it.

I don't know what the hell I'm watching.

The major sports in this country are littered with measurable points of success and failure. A baseball player gets on first base -- that's good. That guy reaches second and he's in scoring position -- even better. A football player gains a first down -- that's good. He gets tackled for a loss -- that's bad. A spectator can quickly run a mental gamut on what it will take for his team to score or the opposition to prevent the score. There are several, small wins and losses -- a 3-pointer in hoops, 40 shots on goal saved in hockey -- to react to in these games that it's easy to stay engaged. And it satisfies that yen for instant gratification.

But ftbol?

"Sometimes in soccer you have to move back to go forward," I was told last night.

There are people out there, many who were at last night's match, who reveled in their ignorance as I did. Those people gleefully annoyed the crap out of friends by asking stupid questions. As I did.

Why did that play break down? Was No. 17 being lazy, or was that play too tough to make? What differences in skill between teams am I not seeing? How long can the keeper hold the ball before he has to get rid of it? Can he pick the ball up if a teammate passes back to him? Does David Beckham still play in the U.S.? Is he a total wanker in person? He seems like he would be.

The Revs lost 4-1.

Don't call me a convert but I had a good time. And in sports? That's what I'm looking for.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

New England Revolution release 2018 schedule

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New England Revolution release 2018 schedule

The New England Revolution's 2018 schedule was released today, and the Revs will open the season on the road in Chester, Pa. against the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium on March 3.

The club will play its home opener one week later, hosting the Colorado Rapids at Gillette Stadium on March 10. Kickoff for the home opener is currently slated for 1:30p.

New England will play a total of 22 games against Eastern Conference opposition this season. The Revs are set to play each of the 10 fellow Eastern Conference teams at least twice, and will play the Montreal Impact and Philadelphia Union a total of three times each. The Revs will face each of the 12 clubs in the Western Conference one time each, including a road contest with expansion side LAFC for the first meeting in the clubs' history on Sat., Sept. 15.

NBC Sports Boston will once again serve as the Revolution’s local broadcast partner and will carry up to 32 regular-season games. The 2018 season marks the ninth consecutive campaign that NBCSB will be the television home of the club and the fifth straight year that Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner will team up to call the action from the booth. Naoko Funayama also returns for her second season as sideline reporter.

New England Revolution 2018 MLS Regular Season Schedule (all times Eastern)

Date

Opponent

Venue

Time

Broadcast*

Sat., March 3

at Philadelphia Union

Talen Energy Stadium

TBD

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., March 10

Colorado Rapids

Gillette Stadium

1:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., March 24

New York City FC

Gillette Stadium

1:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., March 31

at Houston Dynamo

BBVA Compass Stadium

8:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Friday, April 6

Montreal Impact

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., April 14

FC Dallas

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., April 21

at Columbus Crew SC

MAPFRE Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., April 28

Sporting Kansas City

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., May 5

at Montreal Impact

Stade Saputo

1p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., May 12

Toronto FC

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., May 19

Columbus Crew SC

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., May 26

at Vancouver Whitecaps FC

BC Place

5:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Wed., May 30

Atlanta United FC

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., June 2

New York Red Bulls

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., June 9

at Chicago Fire

Toyota Park

8:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Wed., June 13

at San Jose Earthquakes

Avaya Stadium

10:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., June 30

D.C. United

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., July 7

Seattle Sounders FC

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., July 14

LA Galaxy

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Wed., July 18

at Minnesota United FC

TCF Bank Stadium

8p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., July 21

at New York Red Bulls

Red Bull Arena

7:00 p.m. ET

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., August 4

at Orlando City SC

Orlando City Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., August 11

Philadelphia Union

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sun., August 19

at D.C. United

Audi Field

6p

FS1

Sat., August 25

at Philadelphia Union

Talen Energy Stadium

TBD

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., Sept. 1

Portland Timbers

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Wed., Sept. 5

at New York City FC

Yankee Stadium

7:00 p.m. ET

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., Sept. 15

at LAFC

Banc of California Stadium

10:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., Sept. 22

Chicago Fire

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., Sept. 29

at Toronto FC

BMO Field

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sat., Oct. 6

at Atlanta United FC

Mercedes-Benz Stadium

3:30p

Univision

Sat., Oct. 13

Orlando City SC

Gillette Stadium

7:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Thursday, Oct. 18

at Real Salt Lake

Rio Tinto Stadium

9:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Sun., Oct. 28

Montreal Impact

Gillette Stadium

4:30p

NBC Sports Boston

Revolution introduce Brad Friedel as coach

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Revolution introduce Brad Friedel as coach

New Revolution coach Brad Friedel was introduced to the media at Gillette Stadium on Monday and promised his "obsession with winning" will filter down to the rest of the organization.

“We have a lot of work ahead but we do have a lot of good players here, a lot of good pieces to this club,” Friedel said.  “One thing we can guarantee you — because you never want to guarantee too much in sport — is that you will get 100 percent commitment from myself and staff, as well as the players.

“And we’re going to be, hopefully, get to the obsession that I have with winning. And we’ll work our best to try and get those wins on the board that we can.”

Since retiring as a player, Friedel, a former UMNT goalkeeper who spent most of his career in Europe and the Premier League, has coached the US U-19 team and worked as a soccer analyst for FOX Sports. He's the eighth coach in the MLS franchise's 22-year history. He replaces Jay Heaps, the Revs' second-longest serving coach who led New England to playoff appearances from 2013-15, including an MLS Cup Final appearance in 2014. 

Friedel said it won't be difficult to adjust to coaching in the MLS after a long career in Europe. 

“That won't be hard to adjust to at all," Freidel said. "Not every team over in Europe or England, for that matter, has these enormous budgets. Working at clubs like Blackburn as a player, but then at Tottenham, I know it's a big club, but they work under a strict budget at Tottenham. You learn to work under whatever restrictions or not there may or may not be... 

"Whatever budget is given to us, we will work with. I think what's really important is the mentality of the players. Fans and players are usually the two most important things at every single club. Us as a staff, we're employed to try to make those players better. So, whatever players are in front of us, that's going to be our focus – on getting a team environment, a winning environment, and an environment where every player wants to work hard. It doesn't really matter where your budgets are.”

Friedel said he likes the potential on the Revs roster. 

"I think there's a lot of potential within the group. We're not going to go into details at the first press conference obviously with the squad itself. We have a lot of meetings ahead with that, but there's a lot of potential in the group... 

"This is not a team that is in disarray, that's for sure. I think there needs to be little tweaks to it, and then my staff and I need to go in and try to mold the team and get the confidence back. I think if you see – you can look at stats, stats don't lie – over 60 goals conceded is too much and that's something we'll need to address. But, we know what we need to address and we'll work hard to address those issues."