The New England Revolution are on to the MLS Cup. It must have been a big occasion. Bob Kraft doesn’t show up to soccer games without liberal use of a cattle prod. With a 2-2 draw on the day, and a 4-3 aggregate win over Red Bull New York, the Revs will have their first shot at a playoff title since losing in three straight MLS Cup appearances from 2005-07.
The Eastern Conference Championship was the sort of perfectly imperfect series that only MLS can offer. Sweet Designated Player to Designated Player assist action, bonehead plays from untested youngsters, questionable officiating, and never-ending drama.
When the MLS playoffs are at their best, it’s when the top teams manage to spin straw into gold. When everything that’s supposedly “wrong” with the domestic game — parity, salary caps, lack of depth — turn into a wonderfully messy collage of entertainment that doesn’t really make sense to the logic center of your brain. Like when you hear a great melody and find out it was just a chimp banging on a piano. It happens sometimes.
Former “Next Big Thing” Charlie Davies was the star of the night. The Revolution’s season has been marked by player reclamation and resurgences by Davies and Teal Bunbury. Even new midfield anchor Jermaine Jones was unemployed much longer after the World Cup than anyone expected. Davies two-goal night was a fitting chapter to the Revs’ continuing story.
The series loss plunges the Red Bulls into an offseason that’s cloudy by even New York standards. Thierry Henry may be walking away. The team is presently without a GM. Mike Petke’s position is in a permanently unsecured holding pattern. The list of players who could be elsewhere includes nearly the entire squad. It was an exciting but bitter end for a team that performed exactly to their level overall in 2014.
New England now await the winner of the Seattle-LA series in the Western Conference so they can figure out their December travel plans. Regardless of how that MLS Cup Final ends, the Revolution can take pride in a season that’s seen them go from the weakest team in the league to the Cup favorite (at least to those possessing adequate wisdom) in a matter of weeks.