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2013 MLS Beer-view: New England Revolution

Editor's Note: The 2013 Major League Soccer season is underway! You've read your season predictions, team-by-team capsules, and all sorts of talk on the state of American soccer. Season eighteen is an important benchmark as it passes the seventeen that the last attempt at professional soccer, the North American Soccer League (version 1.0), in the U.S. survived for.

And while you might be celebrating your side's first victory or scratching your head over their first lost... there's one thing that's been missing from all these early MLS musings... beer.

Don't worry we've got you covered.

By Andy Przystanski / Chapter President, American Outlaws: Adams (MA)

A fairly active offseason has given New Englanders reason to be cautiously optimistic.  Recent acquisitions Andrew Farrell and Donnie Smith, as well as homegrown product Scott Caldwell all put in very promising shifts during the preseason.  Revs fans will also keep an eye on the young Diego Fagundez, who is poised for a breakout year (in terms of goals and possibly dermatologically speaking—he is still in high school, after all).

Saer Sene, Jerry “Springer” Bengston, Juan Toja, Lee Nguyen, and Stephen McCarthy are other standouts on a surprising talented squad.  Since Benny Feilhaber’s departure early in the offseason, Lee Nguyen has become the team’s marquee player.  Arguably the most skillful, technically gifted member of the squad, the Revs will need him to have a great year if it hopes to make it into the postseason.

Heading into his sophomore year as head coach, Jay Heaps will hope to emulate the success his peers Ben Olsen and Jason Kreis had in their second years.

Beer Selection: Cambridge Brewing Co. "The Audacity of Hops" Double IPA (Cambridge, MA)

“This year will be different.”  Being a New England fan is about keeping the faith in the face of hard times.  Even without a big name signing or a soccer-specific stadium in sight, Revs supporters have the audacity to dream big.

The Audacity of Hops is an audaciously hopped Belgian Double IPA with an ABV of 9% and 70 IBUs.  A meld of the quintessentially American flavors of a west coast IPA and the spicy complexities of a Belgian, the beer is a marriage of New and Old World tastes.  Pair with a sharp, aged cheddar from Vermont.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, New England Revolution, The Best of Both Worlds

Making The Case: A Troubling Time for Supporters in New England

At this point in American soccer I thought we were really past this. I thought that, for the most part, Major League Soccer teams had decided that supporters were a good thing. Yeah, sure they occasionally dropped the f-bomb and, oh yeah, we'd really appreciate it if you left the smoke bombs at home, but you all keep on doing what looks good on TV and to the rest of the fans at the stadium... cheering your brains out for the home team.

Wrong.

Last weekend the New England Revolution took to the field at the massive Gillette Stadium against the Chicago Fire and what occurred around the 60th minute of this match can only be described as madness. The solid New England site, "The Drug is Football" has documented the incidents well and we''ll be borrowing their descriptions liberally.

"What can only be described as a planned operation took place against the Fort (the supporters section for Revs fans) and Revolution Supporters Groups. Gillette Stadium security, TeamOps, went about ejecting and in multiple cases having the Foxborough Police Department make arrests. The start of all of this is from the "You suck asshole" chant that is routinely done around the league after goalkeepers take a goalkick."

From various accounts of the incident, which you can also read in more detail at two other Revolution sites, "The Indirect Kick" and "The Bent Musket", supporters of the Revs were forcibly removed from the stadium after security responded to multiple complaints over language (during this match and all season) coming from "the Fort". Of others who were not removed many left the game in silent protest of the security details' tactics.

Whether or not this was a premeditated operation is unknown., but members of "the Fort" noticed an increased security presence during the match, more security supervisors from TeamOps (which is owned by Revs team owner Robert Kraft), and the lack of the Revs Girls who normally roam freely around the section cheering with the supporters. An omonous foreshadowing of things to come.

"The Drug is Football" reported that at least 10-12 people were arrested and more than 20 people have been banned from Gillette from the match. Their account again:

"One person who was arrested has gotten in touch with us, due to pending legal action we will not publish his name however he told us he was arrested for disorderly conduct. We witnessed him being arrested and he was peacefully leaving The Fort along with many others. He also has told us that when he was arrested by the Foxborough Police Department he was not read his Miranda Rights, when he asked he was told by the arresting officer "Fuck your rights", in addition when they ID'd him he gave his military ID to which the officer said to him "You must be in the Navy because you're acting like a pussy". 
Obviously we cannot blame this directly on the team, but these actions by the Foxborough PD are appalling and the disrespect they gave to an active member of the military is shameful considering we are a nation still fighting multiple wars. These officers may be or have been members of rival branches of the military but there is no excuse for bringing that into their job. One cannot help but think this all could have been easily avoided."

The Revolution's Chief Operating Officer Brian Bilello confirms what sparked the incident (full statement here):

"Unfortunately there was an issue last night in the fort which was a culmination of multiple weeks of complaints from many of our STH who do not sit in the fort. This was related to one particular chant which our supporters' liaison has spoken to the supporter group leaders about on multiple occasions this season."

While Bilello calls the situation from last Saturday an "issue" for the members of the supporters groups (the Rebellion and the Midnight Riders... both previously profiled in our "Better Know a Supporters Group" series) and other unaffiliated fans in "the Fort" this was more than just an issue. His PR backing of the security's actions will only make the current situation worse.

Why TeamOps decided Saturday's game was the day they were going to come down on "YSA" or any other poor language we may never know. Given the treatment some supporters experienced the response by Bilello appears short-sighted and tone deaf. Blaming supporters without giving a hint of remorse to how they were treated or maybe acknowledge that TeamOps may have been over-zealous will haunt him and the team for a long time.

The New England Revolution are one of the founding clubs of MLS (and the only team still with its original crest) and the former home of some great American soccer players including Steve Ralson, Clint Dempsey, and Taylor Twellman. The team missed out on several MLS Cup titles in the league's early years and, since success in the in the 2007 U.S. Open Cup, the team has struggled missing the playoffs in 2010.

Gillette Stadium, home to the NFL's Patriots and located 30 minutes south of Boston in Foxborough, is the home of the Revolution, but even decent crowd sizes, something that has been hard to come by lately, are swallowed up by the nearly 70,000 seat behemoth. The team's owner, Robert Kraft, one of the saviors of MLS in its darkest years has been accused of indifference to the team and whether or not that's completely accurate it's easy to see why that charge has been leveled against him.
 

"The Fort" during last Wednesday's poorly attended TFC match
and what it might look like each game going forward.
Photo Credit: The Drug is Football

What occurred on Saturday night at Gillette was the culmination of years of difficult relations between the Revolution Front Office, the ever rotating set of TeamOps security personnel, and the supporters of the Revs.

Rebellion Vice President Brendan Schimmel said, "The failure is everywhere. The FO has to respond to complaints from STHs, in doing so they risk alienating a majority. Security, for their tactics employed being perceived as disorganized, inconsistent and indiscriminate. Everyone and their mother knows the behavior at a Pats game is ten times worse, except they don't have one section they can scapegoat.

"Although, I can assure you the FO did intervene before security took action Saturday night allowing us the chance to curtail the profanity. The expectation that anyone had the power to prevent a crowd like this from swearing is unrealistic and the result was unfortunate. The response to these requests is what forced Security's hand. This is a bad situation that put good people in difficult positions."

"I love the Revs. But the feeling of being treated like criminals in your own house is frustrating," he continued.

"Celebrating supporters for their joint road trip to Red Bull Arena one week and then having ejections occur for the same behavior a week later at home is inconsistent and it brings multiple underlying issues that linger with many supporters to the surface."

Schmimmel even acknowledged that Revolution supporters have been working to stamp out "YSA" as it is offensive, annoying, sophomoric, and unoriginal. Both the Rebellion and Midnight Riders released a joint "Fan of Code Conduct" which looks to rid the supporters section of such actions. Unfortunately, running a supporters group is much like herding cats and cultural change takes time.

The mess that transpired only serves to highlight the bigger problem the Revolution organization has... that they are stuck in what is commonly referred to as MLS 1.0. The fact that newcomers (and even some older clubs) to MLS have soccer-specific stadiums, supporter friendly policies and expectations, and successful marketing that shows positive growth in their team's area. The Revolution has none of these markers of a successful MLS franchise.

And while Schimmel points to "healthly" relationships with the Revs FO, the rot in the club comes not from well-meaning people behind desks, but a lack of understanding coming from the ownership of what it takes to become a successful American soccer franchise. Look at the Revs hesitation in signing a "designated player" (Benny Feilhaber basically fell into their lap via the allocation order rule and even then it seemed as though they were going to pass), look at the lack of progress of finding the team a proper soccer home, look at the limited marketing and family-sanitized approach to game day operations and one can see the frustrations underlining what transpired last weekend.

Where do the Revolution and its supporters go from here?

Schimmel wondered out loud, "Honestly, there is no one solution that can probably satisfy everyone. Regardless of the advances we make, overall, the perception of our ownership and the venue we play in will always serve to create discord."

"The incident has ballooned into something far bigger than a simplified argument about a fan's right to swear. It is now for better or for worse serving as a referendum on how the club's most loyal fans feel about the organization," he said.

Teams across the league use its supporters to market the team, the atmosphere they create is the stuff that draws the TV cameras in, and is, more often than not, celebrated by the fans in the rest of the stadium. In the cavernous Gillette "the Fort" is often the only audible crowd noise and when the majority of the section left the match the difference was clear. The Revolution can't both promote "the Fort" culture and then actively restrict some of the elements (and off-color comments) that come from it.

This is a crucial time for American soccer in New England. After drawing 65,000 to the same place for the U.S.-Spain match the Revolution drew barely drew 6,500 to a midweek match against Toronto FC (although it was during the Stanley Cup Game Seven with the Boston Bruins) and 14,500 to the Fire match. The potential for growth in the Boston-area is there and has been since the Revolution's arrival in 1996.

Stories like this one only heighten the perception that the ownership isn't serious about American soccer and putting down solid roots. With much of the American soccer world's eyes on Kansas City last week and seeing their ownership's commitment to American soccer and the positive working relationship the club has with its supporters (including its own members bar!) just shows that it can be done.

Many long-time season ticket holders and members of the supporters groups are questioning their commitment to a club they've given so much support to, but that the club has given so little back to them. If the actions from Saturday's game and Bilello's comments are to be taken as evidence, the team appears to have put its lot in with family-sanitized game day "atmosphere" (which research shows the family dollar in American soccer is credibly fleeting) rather than the supporters who are there game in and game out. If the Revolution loses "the Fort" then they may have just lost the entire plot.

The Revolution supporters have meetings scheduled with the Front Office, but only time will tell if American soccer in the Boston-area can survive such a disaster that occurred this past Saturday. At this point both sides are talking past each other with the Revs FO concerned about the language and the supporters concerned about their treatment by security personnel and other issues festering underneath this latest incident.

In the end the best solution to this problem might come from the most simple idea. One commentator wrote that to end the "YSA" chant just "put the fucking ball in the net and there won't be a goal kick."

There you go.

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Tags: Major League Soccer, Making The Case, New England Revolution, Supporters Groups

Better Know a Supporters Group - Midnight Riders (New England Revolution)

 
We continue to expand our coverage of American soccer culture with our series "Better Know a Supporters Group," just like Steven Colbert's "Better Know a District" from "The Colbert Report". 

Our goal: to feature each of the MLS teams' supporters groups. We've sent e-mails to each and every SG in Major League Soccer and soon you'll be able to check all what each is all about and what awesomeness they have to contribute to our growing American soccer world.

When we devised this idea a while back it was cool to be able to see what each supporter group is about, but in light of the terrible, one-sided, anti-American, condescending profile of Philadelphia's Sons of Ben SG by the British GQ (not even going to link to it to give them the site hits) we think its all the more important to give supporters groups in Major League Soccer the proper exposure and voice they deserve.
 
This week's edition of the series is a special one as we're featuring TWO supporters group of one MLS club. It's always a treat to go to the movies and get a double feature and we're hoping that you'll feel the same way about getting double the info on New England's supporters groups.
 
First up, the Midnight Riders as told to the Free Beer Movement by MR executive board member Chris Camille.
 
You can read all about the Rebellion, the Revolution's other major SG as well.
 
The Basics
 
SG Name: The Midnight Riders


MLS Club: New England Revolution

Stadium: Gillette Stadium

Year SG Founded: 1995, the year before MLS began.

Section Name (if other than SG name): The Fort

Any other SGs apart of your section? Rev Army, The Rebellion

Location of SG in Stadium (section #, side, direction): Section 143, in the shadow of the "light house."

The Meaty Questions

What are the origins of your groups’ name?

Everyone should take a second and be thankful for Paul Revere and his famous "Midnight Ride," if it wasn't for him Tim Howard would have been in net this past summer for England and we wouldn't have been able to see Robert Green's famous flub. Further, Canada would probably have made a few more World Cups at this point, and really, who wants that? Look it up in your alternate-history books, kids. It's all right there.

Favorite chants/songs?

Cheering on the ultimate Fort Favorite, Khano Smith with "Kaaahno, no, no, no, no…" to the tune of "Seven Nation Army."

Also, more seriously, "From the Halls of Foxboro Stadium…" and one of most recent additions, "What New England's done to me…" which is sung to the United States Marine Corp's "Mama, Mama, can't you see." (Shout out to the Rev Army)

Why is being in the supporters section the “best seat in the house”?

In cavernous Gillette Stadium the Fort is the only place where you can stand and feel like you are actually part of something. Everyone is always packed in to this tiny little outpost in what is most likely the worst part of the stadium to actually view the action on the field. This, coupled with the horrible 45+ minutes a majority of our members need to drive to reach Gillette from Boston and you know that everyone is there because they are obsessed with the sport and with the Revs in general. We've heard a million excuses about why it isn't worth the trip but it doesn't matter, we're all there no matter what to support the team.

Just ask Atlante's keeper Frederico Vilar about his time in front of the Fort during the SuperLiga and he'll tell you that on our day we can support with the best of them.

Brag. What makes your SG one of the best supporters groups in MLS?

We are the largest supporters group of the New England Revolution. We represent more states than any other SG out there. All six of the New England states have representation.

We also have about as long a history as you can have in supporting MLS. The group has existed since 1995, a year before actual play began. We started the Fort with the Rev Army and we were also one of the first groups to incorporate "tifo" displays into our game day repertoire.

I also think we have one of the best tailgates you can be a part of. We may at first seem like ornery bunch but just like any New Englander, once you get to know us, we're actually very friendly. Some supporters groups out there who have watched Green Street Hooligans a bit too much won't think this is bragging but I also think we are the most friendly supporters group in the country. There is always an open invitation that if you are traveling to Foxboro to watch your team take on the Revs you should swing by our tailgate to grab a bite to eat and try some of our top-notch craft beers (to rival those from anywhere in the country, though this topic may be for another blog post).

Greatest game(s) in team history?

We've had a pretty tumultuous history in terms of results but there have certainly been some pretty incredible highlights. In 2002, when we hosted the MLS Cup Final and the Revs played in front of 68,000 fans (still an MLS Cup record for attendance) is certainly up there despite the soul crushing final play.

The other two results that resonate with most of our members are the two times we have actually lived the silverware.

In 2007 the Revs won the US Open Cup and a large group of Riders were there to cheer on the cause.

In 2008, in front of a packed Fort, the Revs were able to get a bit of solace after their losses to the Dyanmo in the MLS Cup Finals by defeating Houston in penalties.

Predictions for this season?

The Revs were horrendous last season so it is nice to see that they realized something had to be done. It is still to be seen if what they did is going to make a difference. The team has added a lot of young, inexperienced players and a lot of older veterans. If they can get the balance right they could do okay but there is always the chance that the older guys will get hurt and the younger ones won't be ready to step in.

Rookie Ryan Kinne could be the surprise package of the season so watch this space!

Why Major League Soccer? Why American soccer?

We all love the game for one reason or another and supporting your local club is just too important to the future of the game in this country not to do.

Our stadium is very far away from Boston where quite a few of our members actually live. Everyone has a story of some fan who only supports a European club at a bar and doesn't see value in supporting his or her local side and it is one of the most frustrating things to encounter when you are trying to build support. They often say that the quality of the MLS isn't up to par with what they're watching at 7:30 am at the pub and we're am not trying to argue with that. We are saying that the only way that the team that you can actually watch live, week in and week out, is going to get better is with the support of any and all local fans of the game.

For more information and/or to join the Midnight Riders check out their website.

Tags: Better Know A Supporters Group, Major League Soccer, New England Revolution

Better Know a Supporters Group - The Rebellion (New England Revolution)

 
We continue to expand our coverage of American soccer culture with our series "Better Know a Supporters Group," just like Steven Colbert's "Better Know a District" from "The Colbert Report". 

Our goal: to feature each of the MLS teams' supporters groups. We've sent e-mails to each and every SG in Major League Soccer and soon you'll be able to check all what each is all about and what awesomeness they have to contribute to our growing American soccer world.

When we devised this idea a while back it was cool to be able to see what each supporter group is about, but in light of the terrible, one-sided, anti-American, condescending profile of Philadelphia's Sons of Ben SG by the British GQ (not even going to link to it to give them the site hits) we think its all the more important to give supporters groups in Major League Soccer the proper exposure and voice they deserve.
 
This week's edition of the series is a special one as we're featuring TWO supporters group of one MLS club. It's always a treat to go to the movies and get a double feature and we're hoping that you'll feel the same way about getting double the info on New England's supporters groups.
 
Second up, the Rebellion as told to the Free Beer Movement by Bill Lewandowski, Rebellion Propaganda Minister.
 
You can read all about the Midnight Riders, the Revolution's other major SG as well.

The Basics

SG Name: The Rebellion


MLS Club: New England Revolution

Stadium: Gillette Stadium

Year SG Founded: 2009

Section Name (if other than SG name): The Fort

Any other SGs apart of your section? Midnight Riders, Rev Army, La Barra Latina

Location of SG in Stadium (section #, side, direction): North End, Sec . 141, 142, 143

The Meaty Questions

What are the origins of your groups’ name?

Origins of the group name are derived from the American Revolution theme. The New England colonies had become the most dissident of the 13 and pushed the line from simple defiance of the crown to outright Rebellion. Early Rebels formed a tight network to combat the British, organizing the common defense and coordinating throughout New England to collectively rise up for a common cause.

To quote Sam Adams, leader of the Sons of Liberty, a band of ruffians usually out causing a ruckus, “it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fire in people’s minds.”

This couldn't reign more true with our goals in the saturated sports market of Boston.

Favorite chants/songs?

Mama, Mama
Glory Glory Revolution

Why is being in the supporters section the “best seat in the house”

You can just sit back in your seats and wait for something to happen or you can stand up, shoulder to shoulder with your friends and create the atmosphere, the passion, and inspire your team and will them to victory or go hoarse trying. Whether we're displaying tifo, singing our hearts out, waving flags, or drinking confetti filled beers you're a part of a constant build up to a possible explosion of emotion. It's addicting.

Brag. What makes your SG one of the best supporters groups in MLS?

We're new, and we may not be the "best" but I do know what sets us apart. Inclusion. We made it our mission the show the casual soccer fan the benefits of seeing the game from our angle; and how much fun living the supporters lifestyle can be. There is a tight knit family created by this that extends far beyond Revs games. A culturally diverse area like New England brings together passionate fans with multiple backgrounds with a high soccer IQ and a deep appreciate for the game. Together we collectively share a goal; to spread and elevate the game in this country. That all starts in the Fort on game day.


In addition the majority of our members make up some of the best American Outlaw chapters in the country. @AO_Providence , @AOBoston and AO Hartford. AO Boston known for making the legendary trip to Honduras, and AO Providence having one of the best Donovan goal celebrations out there.

Greatest game(s) in team history?

2008 Superliga Finals. After a hotly contested Semi Final win over Atlante featuring a total of six red cards, the Revs faced Houston Dynamo at Gillette. Houston had ousted us in the previous two MLS Cups. Bad blood galore. After falling to 1-0, a Steve Ralston goal tied it at 1-1 and the game eventually went into extra time. Revs fell quickly 2-1 in the OT period until Shalrie Joseph's header knotted it back up 2-2 to send the game to PKs to which the Revs won 6-5. Epic. Amazing. Awesome.


Recap
From the Fort

Predictions for this season?

Undefeated, winning MLS Cup, dominating US Open Cup, embarrassing any European club who makes the trip and being overly jingoistic about supporting our Boys.

Why Major League Soccer? Why American soccer?

This is our league in our country. The argument is made that it's not the among the top leagues in the world and our best Americans play abroad. It's no excuse not to support your local club. For example, the best Argentineans play abroad, and have you seen a River Plate v Boca Juniors game? Bananas. Our players that move on are forever MLS players. Clint Dempsey will always be a Rev. It's awesome to be able to look back and say you saw a future superstar develop in front of you.

Why soccer in America? Frankly can anyone stomach the amount of commercials during an American Football game? Can you really suffer through four hour baseball games 162 times? An MLS fan has more in common with an MLS player in terms of compensation and living conditions than other sport in America. These guys play for the love of the game.

For more information and/or to join the Rebellion check out their website.

Tags: Better Know A Supporters Group, Major League Soccer, New England Revolution, Supporters Groups