A supportive 25,543 fans made the trip to Gillette Stadium Saturday night, cheering on the Revolution in their final regular season home game this season. New England would beat the Chicago Fire 1-0 thanks to a 25-yard goal from Diego Fagundez. The attendance marks the fourth-largest in a regular season match, possibly restoring some faith in a team that certainly did not live up to expectations in 2012. But on a night honoring team MVP awards, breast cancer awareness, and the entire Revolution organization for their efforts, plenty of questions about next year arose.
Time to Spend?
The MLS salary cap is $2,810,000 per team for the 2012 season, not counting the extra salary of designated players. Why? Because the designated players (up to 3 per team) sell tickets and bring in more revenue for a club than anyone else on the roster. These designated players are some of the best, and there is no incentive to play in the United States unless the money is there. It may not be the most moral way to build a successful soccer organization, but the Red Sox and Yankees are consistently power-house baseball teams for a reason, they spend. The Revolution sit close to last in payroll spending in the MLS at $3,522,469 for the 2012 season. Los Angelas? $17,229,783. New York? $13,228,1553.
It may not be fair to criticize Revolution owner Robert Kraft on his conservative spending, but a man who wanted to build a casino across the street from the stadium could spare a few million. Looking at all the rumors swirling around New England moving to a new stadium in Boston, everything is irrelevant without going after a pricey designated player. The spending by LA and New York are out of control, but the Seattle Sounders are a great example of a successful team who spends just one to two million dollars than most clubs. Their playoff chances are exciting, their future is promising, and the decision to sign Fredy Montero for roughly $750,000 a year has paid off tremendously. So the question arises, are the Revolution going to find their own designated star?
Speaking of Ticket Sales
Even if the Revs are not looking to spend this off-season, they are aware of how critical young and upcoming star Diego Fagundez could be to future revenue. Regardless if Fagundez shines next season as a starter, it is evident the crowd (although young), is fond of him. The ‘Go, Diego Go!’ chants after his goal Saturday night felt corny, but also felt like a chant we all could get used to. Saer Sene and Lee Nguyen have been solid additions to the team, but fans are naturally more attracted to the next Freddy Adu. Is Diego a starter for next season? Will he be the next breakout player in the MLS?
Is Bobby The Future?
Bobby Shuttleworth has only started in net for 6 games for New England this season, but has allowed just 5 goals with a 76% save percentage. The decision to sit Matt Reis in more games the next season could be like Tuuka Rask taking Tim Thomas’ job for the Boston Bruins. Reis has been a stud keeper for the bulk of the Revolution’s playoff runs, but at age 37, his veteran performance will certainly dwindle.
The Revs will finish the MLS season with a trip up to Montreal on Saturday for a 2 pm ET match against the Impact. Coverage can be found on the Comcast Sports Network for television and 98.5 The Sports Hub for radio.
– Matt Bloom