Revolution

Haggerty: Why soccer will never make it in the U.S.

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Haggerty: Why soccer will never make it in the U.S.

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

For the rabid soccer fan out there and is there any other kind? settling into downtown Toronto last weekend might have been the perfect setting to view the World Cup Finals after a month of build-up.

Or at least the best locale for anybody not well-heeled enough to score a plush seat next to best buddies Mick Jagger and Bill Clinton among the 85,000 spectators in South Africa.

Fans flooded bars along College Street to watch all the World Cup matches that dragged on over the last month, and colorful soccer jerseys were spotted all over downtown Toronto readying for the final match Sunday between the Netherlands and Spain.

When the game finally concluded, with Spain scoring the dramatic, game-winning goal just prior to things being pushed to penalty kicks, Toronto might have easily been mistaken for downtown Madrid or bustling Barcelona with its unabashed celebration.

Thousands of people performed their victory strut adorned in the telltale Yellow and Red hues of the traditional Spanish flag, and proud Spaniards pulled up and pointed to their jerseys in an homage to the on-field celebrations their soccer heroes engaged in during the first World Cup soccer title in Spains history.

Cars of all shapes and sizes buzzed down the street leaning down heavily on their horns while frothy fans dangled out the windows while vigorously waving flags at the crowd around them. People danced on top of other cars in wild, jubilant, victorious celebration like it was a Flamenco contest.

The sound of the vuvuzelas echoed through the streets long hours after Andres Iniesta fired a laser shot with his right leg that landed in the back of the net after bouncing precariously off the Netherlands' keeper's hand.

If you are a soccer aficionado, it probably was a pretty damned cool snapshot in time and certainly a wild scene befitting the hooligans and sing-song fanatics that have long characterized the worlds greatest soccer tourney.

But for somebody that hasn't cared about the World Cup since the first days of the hype machine this summer, hasn't found themselves wrapped up in Landon Donovan-mania, and was more stupefied than captivated by a scoreless match through nearly two hours of action, it was something bordering on a World Cup nightmare at the end of long, forgettable journey of scoreless action and flopping divers on the pitch.

The World Cup tourney produced a record 31 one-goal games of the 64 played during the soccer competition, and that spelled mass boredom for casual fans or bona fide enemies of the sport.

In case you havent guessed it by now, I am much more the latter than the former.

It was only fitting to be stuck in the middle of Ground Zero for a World Cup celebration over the weekend covering the Red SoxBlue Jays series in Toronto, because I couldn't give a damn about soccer at any level.

I'd proudly label myself an Ugly American that cannot, has not and will not get caught up in the hype of competitive soccer as entities like ESPN keep cramming it down the throats of a country that simply doesn't care.

The United States is a nation that appreciates and worships at the altar of their Big Four pro sports, and soccer will never bust into that foursome despite the protests and pleas of soccer moms everywhere.

Just look at the championship game as a prime example why soccer will never truly make it in the States.

Yellow cards were tossed out all over the field like bricks from Oz.

Every player was hitting the deck with alarming regularity as if they were gunned down by snipers upon physical contact.

But the biggest indictment of all was also the overwhelming problem with the sport: There was nothing going on.

No goals. No fights. No action that seized you by the collar of your soccer jersey and wouldnt let you go.

Instead it was simply two teams running up and down the pitch passing the ball to each other before turning it over, rinsing and repeating for a rush down the other end of the field.

Some accuse Americans of being too caught up in the scoreboard and too short-attention-spanned to truly enjoy the beauty of a well-played soccer game with all the intricacies and nuance that common, unwashed masses like myself simply can't understand.

To which I have this studied response: Meh.

Show me a 0-0 score at the end of regulation in any sport and I'll show you a crowd with glazed eyes and droopy eyelids from the severe lack of anything interesting or compelling to watch. At least in hockey theres the threat that a fight or other satisfying bit of sanctioned violence could break out to bust the monotony.

Show me a 0-0 score in soccer and Ill show you a complete waste of two hours with little to no redeeming value.

New England Revolution star Taylor Twellman did an excellent job covering the World Cup action for CSNNEs SportsNet Central over the last month as a soccer analyst, and he might have swayed some on the fence toward the dark side of enjoying soccer.

But not this guy.

There's only one way soccer would improve to barely watchable in my eyes: If, with 10 minutes to go in the game, officials released lions onto the pitch from both ends of the stadium. Or if spikes began shooting indiscriminately from the ground.

Picture the horrendous early '80s movie Flash Gordon when Flash is battling the Baron in the floating home of the Bird Men (I hope even one of you is still with me at this point), and their floor is moving back and forth while giant metal spikes jump back and forth at their feet.

Now that would be visceral drama and suspense even if neither team could muster any . . . you know . . . offense to actually reward those who watched these painfully boring, empty-calorie World Cup soccer matches.

Now if there were lions running rampant on the field that might have been something I could've thrown my support behind last weekend.

Heck, I might have even waved a flag while driving a car and beeping my horn though the streets of Toronto while yelling "Viva Spain!"

Now that's a picture that better never become reality.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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."