Look at my photo above. Get a good look at it. I took that photo in my car — the Honda Spaceship — in the Gillette Stadium parking lot a couple of hours before the Revolution took on Chicago in the 2016 US Open Cup semifinals. It was the first time I covered at the Revs at Gillette, having covered two previous Open Cup games at Harvard for Fitchburg; we didn't do Saturday night games because they didn't align with an early print deadline -- but that's another argument for another time.
After that match, a 3-1 Revolution win, we in the Boston soccer press corps made the long walk down to the media workroom for the post-match press conferences of Jay Heaps and Chicago manager Veljko Paunovic. Paunovic was in his first year at the helm of the Fire, a little over a year after coaching the Serbian U-20 national team to the 2015 U-20 World Cup title, and even on that warm August day, one easily saw the stress the man felt while standing at the podium.
After all, Chicago had been in the tank for a while; to call the Fire “in transition” at that point might be an insult to teams in transition. In fact, the Fire were worse than the Revs at that point, given that New England was two years removed from its MLS Cup Final run, and was en route to Dallas for the US Open Cup Final.
But since then, one can make the argument that Paunovic’s side has done just a little better than the Revolution. Just a little bit.