I'd like to thank Revolution fans for correctly assuming I wasn't lumping them in with mainstream Red Sox or Patriots fans - at least, none of them have called me out on it. God knows if someone called me a typical LA sports fan, I'd sue them for defamation of character in small claims court.*
I think after the 2005 Revs heartbreak, I confidently predicted that New England would plummet from the ranks of MLS elite. They were aging in several conspicuous places, Twellman wanted to leave, and honestly, how much pain could one team take?
Then someone in the New England brain trust - Steve Nicol or Paul Mariner or Mike - sorry, Michael Burns, probably - established a feeder club in Wake Forest, ensuring a supply of terrific young players that kept the club ticking along nicely. Nicol or Mariner (or Burns, for all I know) also made sure these players integrated into the club smoothly. Average players who know their role will always beat good players running into each other, and the players New England are bringing in are well above average.
Well, okay, so occasionally you lose a guy to the Church - show me a big-time professional sports team that doesn't happen to.
Sure, it's easy to look at some of these guys' ages and wince, especially when they're picking up injuries to end their seasons. ("Man, what does Khano Smith have against Herculez...oh, yeah, that's right") And I think I can be forgiving for casting serious doubts about Twellman's future, at least in Foxboro. Last year he pouted loudly about not being able to leave, he was hurt all year, and now he's trying to recover from a lingering concussion. Guy's tough, even by Revs standards, but I can't tell you how much I hate that particular combination of events.
Twellman aside, I think the Revolution might be good for one more serious run at the Cup next year. The main reason is Shalrie Joseph, who was one of the top three players in the league this year, and over the past five years has probably been the best player. This guy by himself is Instant Contender, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who cries manly tears that he's cap-tied to Grenada rather than Yankistan. I think/hope Ralston is back for another quality year at the very least - MLS is going to be weird down the road without him, won't it? I don't think Reis, Heaps or Albright are going anywhere, and if Parkhurst stays, then the Revs are set.
If Dube lives up to the promise he showed this season, then New England might even be Cup favorites. They're very, very close. And they also won't be distracted by the Superliga next year...wait, they won't have to defend their "title," will they? If they do, never mind, they'll finish behind Toronto.
*That was some of that charming, self-deprecating humor I've read so much about, and I thought I'd give it a try. How'd I do?