Revolution

MLS Notebook: Revs aren’t the only club with a home-heavy first half, Dielna headed to Portland? & more

Right at 4 p.m. last Monday, Major League Soccer released the full slate of 2019 fixtures following a rather tedious half-hour pre-release show which really only mentioned the Revolution once (the Kelyn Rowe Revenge Game in Kansas City on Saturday, April 27).

A quick look at the Revs’ schedule in the immediate minutes after the release showed six of the first nine games would find themselves played in The House That Brady Built. By the end of June, the first four months of the season will have seen 10 home matches played out of New England’s first 18, one over the halfway mark in the season.

Of course, there was an upheaval of disappointment which rippled throughout Revs Colony about the club playing those six games at home in the cold months of March and April, and how the schedule is home-heavy in the first half for the second consecutive season.

Upon further perusal — it’s been that way for a long time.

For instance: in 2018, the Revolution had played 10 matches at Gillette out of the first 17 league fixtures. This follows seven consecutive seasons where the Original Ten outfit has played 8 or 9 home games by the time the 17-match mark rolls around. And for the record, MLS went to the current 34-match schedule in 2011.

Here’s the breakdown, with the number of home matches in March and April in parenthesis:

2018: 10 home matches through 17 league matches (5)
2017: 8 home through 16 (4)
2016: 8 home through 14 (5)
2015: 9 home through 16 (4)
2014: 8 home through 17 (3)
2013: 8 home through 17 (3)
2012: 9 home through 17 (2)
2011: 9 home through 16 (4)

The data shows that sure, the Revolution have a home-heavy front half, and since 2011, have had true home-heavy first halves since 2011. We can point to this year’s home-heavy front due to the shortened regular season by three weeks, as well as the CONCACAF Gold Cup break in June. Last year, the World Cup break, plus three bye weeks (only 23 clubs in the league).

In 2017, there was a two-week break because of the Gold Cup, and in 2016, there was a short break in early June for the Copa America Centenario (Gillette hosted three matches in that competition). There were also breaks in 2015 (Gold Cup) and 2014 (World Cup). We can also point to Gillette being a prime summer concert venue (Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney) for the dearth of second-half home dates.

Anyway, more to the point. I grew curious as to whether or not this home-heavy stuff is an aberration, restricted only to Fortress Foxborough, or whether this is more league-wide. And I found that our fellow cold-weather neighbors, with the exception of Montreal, have the same situation that we here in New England have in 2019 (March and April home games in parenthesis):

Red Bulls* 10 home games through 17 (4)
NYCFC 9 through 17 (5)
Philadelphia 10 through 17 (4)
Toronto* 10 through 17 (5)
Montreal 6 through 17 (2)

The asterisk above indicates that those two teams, as of right now, have one CONCACAF Champions League home game — in late February.

Not March. Not April.

FEBRUARY.

In other words? Brrrrrrr.

The last seven years are also similar for our cohorts from the 39th to the 45th parallel. Again, there are some exceptions, particularly for our northernmost neighbors at higher, colder latitudes. In 2013: One of Toronto’s home games wasn’t at BMO Field — it was at Rogers Centre, the Blue Jays home. Montreal played two of those four games in March and April 2013 inside the good ol’ Olympic Stadium.

In addition:

  • Toronto played two CONCACAF Champions League matches in February and March last year, altering the Reds’ home schedule dates. Montreal did the same in 2015 with two March CCL dates inside the Big O. And the Red Bulls had three CCL home games last year in February and March, plus one in February 2017.
  • The Hudson River Derby has been played in the first half of the year in all four years of that rivalry. With the distance between Red Bull Arena and Yankee Stadium (20.6 miles), it’s a technical home game for the visitors.

And that’s another thing: several of these venues have other tenants that need accommodation. NYCFC especially: its schedule, both home and away, is always dependent on the Yankees’ home dates and will be until the Bronx Blues get their own facility. Toronto has also had to deal with the Argonauts since 2016; the Canadian Football League starts in mid-June. Like Gillette, RBA is also a concert venue. Right now, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium is undergoing renovations ahead of the 2026 World Cup (spoiler alert: the roof stinks), so it’s not available for L’Impact as a March home venue in place of open-air Stade Saputo right now. They play at home in more favorable conditions.

As for Talen Energy Stadium, which doesn’t have much going on outside of the Union… well, I can’t explain that one. Your Mileage May Vary.

Simply put, we are not alone in our home-heavy first half, road-weary second. It all evens out. It’s a balanced schedule, none of these three games against one opponent B.S. — at least not until 2020, at the earliest.

Honestly, let the cards fall where they may — and may the black cloud hanging over this Original Ten club fade away in 2019.

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Other Revs schedule thoughts:

  • Again, we have two matches with Columbus in a matter of weeks, like 2018. Same thing with NYCFC at the tail end of the schedule. They couldn’t mix that up at all?
  • That Wednesday, April 24 game against Montreal (7:30 p.m.) and Wednesday, July 17 against Vancouver (7:30 p.m.)? Yeah. Going up against Tigers at Red Sox and Blue Jays at Red Sox, respectively, both 7:05 p.m. starts. The Wednesday, June 26 game, though, against Philadelphia (7:30 p.m.), though, is scheduled alternate to White Sox at Red Sox (1:05 p.m.). I wonder how many will make the drive from the Fens to Foxborough that day.
  • In an ideal world, though, the fans in the Back Bay Fens would have Feldman and Mariner in their ears keeping track of what’s happening at Gillette while watching the defending champeens for three-plus hours.
  • You know what would be a good idea? Playing every year at home on Evacuation Day Weekend and Patriot’s Day Weekend. The Red Sox play every year at home on Patriot’s Day Weekend, honoring our heritage with Lexington and Concord. The Revs should play on the closest Saturday to Evacuation Day — and that would work in well with the new secondary kit which, as we reported last weekend, was inspired by the Battle of Dorchester Heights.

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Around the league:

  • During the draft, MLSSoccer.com’s Sam Stejskal reported — through The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio in Chicago — that Portland wanted to execute a trade with the Revolution for center back Claude Dielna’s MLS rights. The Timbers would send $100,000 in General Allocation Money to Foxborough in exchange for the Frenchman. As of Saturday morning, that deal hadn’t been announced. If the deal goes through, you have to tip your cap to Revs GM Michael Burns for this smooth piece of business. $100K in allocation that you wouldn’t have in exchange for a failed center back that hasn’t played at all for you since July? That would be $450,000 in allocation made on players who really didn’t do well here since August, when Burns shifted Krisztian Nemeth to Kansas City. Dielna, who would sign a new contract and potentially below the max Salary Budget Charge, would replace Liam Ridgewell on Portland’s roster; the Timbers and Ridgewell parted ways by mutual consent Thursday.
  • Congrats to former Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber (2011-12, 5 goals in 52 appearances), who signed with Colorado Thursday night. We figure this will be Feilhaber’s last stop before he retires; he’s been pro since 2005, and in MLS since he came to Foxborough.
  • Also: we’re hearing reports that current Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron’s wage demands are a little too high for Newcastle United’s tastes, and that — along with the transfer fee Atlanta’s demanding, upwards of $30-plus million — is what’s holding up his transfer to the English Premier League side. Of course, there are ownership issues with the Magpies, and owner Mike Ashley is looking to sell the Tyneside club. We’re thinking all of this is also holding up the Five Stripes’ signing of South American Player of the Year Pity Martinez.
  • You’ll recall Friday I had mentioned in both the Live Coverage and in the recap of SuperDraft that Chicago needs defensive help, and they made no picks in the draft: the Fire traded it all away for $150,000 in GAM and a player to be named later. The whole needing defensive help is true: Chicago conceded 61 goals last season, and right now have four defenders under contract. They are Jorge Corrales, Nicholas Del Grecco, Grant Liliard, and Chicago signed Sporting Club de Portugal’s Marcelo earlier this offseason. Chicago’s problems stem even further, after outside backs Matt Polster — a Fire draftee who has made 82 appearances since the club drafted him seventh overall in 2015 — and Academy product Andrew Gutman — Revs Academy product Justin Rennicks’ teammate at Indiana, who won the MAC Hermann Trophy last week — have both signed with Scottish Premier League teams. Polster signed with Glasgow Rangers, while Gutman signed with their Old Firm rivals, Celtic FC. Gutman reportedly turned down a Homegrown deal with the Fire. And just an FYI: Chicago still holds Gutman and Polster’s MLS rights. Ives Galarcep reported Thursday that Chicago really wanted Gutman to sign, and that any report which said the Fire did not highly rate the youngster was not true.
  • One non-MLS local note to share with you: We’re waiting to hear who will be the new gaffer over at Boston City FC in the NPSL. We reached out to the club this week, and spokesman — and BSJ member — Mike Preston tells me the interview process is still ongoing; he also jokingly accused me of tapping his phone, seeing as he was just talking about that when I emailed him. Former manager Palhinha, the former Brazilian international, stepped down on November 13 after three years in charge of the Lions to pursue other opportunities. During that time, Palhinha led BCFC to a 20-16-8 record in that time, including a trip to the NPSL postseason in 2016, the Lions’ first season of existence. BCFC also went to one US Open Cup proper in 2017, and tried to qualify for the 2019 edition but were bounced in the second qualifying round.
  • Quickie BCFC stat that I find interesting: 25 players have scored for Boston City in three seasons. Isaac Addai has 17 goals in two seasons.
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