The Revolution’s Latest Crime

I sit here on a rainy Saturday and I am considering filing this post as a police report.

You see, I don’t blog nearly as much as I might with a ligher schedule in “real” life, and when I get a motivating idea I like to see it through. However, this week, someone stole my blog idea, they crashed my post, the pillaged my mental outline.

You see, the post I was contemplating was one that built off the my last, which (unfortunately) proposed the idea that the Revolution had improved minimally since a dismal 2010. That post centered almost exclusively on the on-field mechanics of the team.

The post that was mentally stewing however, was one that tried to peer deeper into the realities about the lack of energy (in the fan base, media base, etc.) and game attedance around the team. In short, my evaluation was telling me it was exactly what we should have expected.

I had formulated a number of areas that each team in the league could be compared against, each of which would be a possible creator of positive fan energy, attention and hopefully would help put the proverbial butts in seats. They were things like…

New stadium? (Or stadium under construction?) Downtown location? Stadiums are both a big, new present to fans and a sign of commitment that might generate an emotional attachment from fans. A downtown location is not a perfect metric of anything, but having an urban location has proven an energy creator for teams like Seattle and Toronto.

MLS Tenure? Predictably, the longer a team has been in MLS the lower the novelty quotient for fans. The newest teams have a predictably easier time generating buzz.

How many points did the team end 2010 with? Again, while not a perfect metric (especially given the vast disparity of Eastern and Western Division teams), it gives a sense to the on-field “success” of the team.

Team playing style? Sometimes teams can do well but not play a particularly enthralling or attractive brand of soccer (think 2002 Revolution). I would argue a better brand of soccer builds a bigger emotional attachment with fans.

MLS Cup Titles? Shows the historic level of “success” of a team, and would suggest reasons for local fans to feel a certain attachment to a team.

Does the team have a Designated Player? (Or has it ever?) Anyone who thinks a Designated Player means that a team will be successful has clearly not been paying attention. However, fans feel that teams making the investments in bringing such players into the fold are looking to invest, make a statement and lead the league. There’s a sense, rightly or wrongly, that the teams that have not made such moves are less involved, less passionate and riding the wave of the rest of the league.

Is there a 2011 “story line” to the team? The team backstory, whether human interest or otherwise, can create a positive buzz for the team irrespective of its on field performance. Examples? D.C. United has two in Charlie Davies’ return and interest in a young Coach’s success. Both L.A. and New York have (or at least started the year with) an aura of “this is our year” to them, and the Red Bulls have the added bonus of Juan Agudelo’s meteoric rise on top of Mr. Henry’s presence.

Branding and corporate awareness? A far lesser metric I suspect than the others, but the lack of corporate involvement – in particular a Jersey sponsor – has painted many teams with a brush that makes them look 2nd tier to the more established, branded and “invested-in” teams.

So that was my quick list of metrics by which one could pretty easily compare teams in MLS, and get a sense that they either check off many of the possible areas that would create an energetic local market, or see that they miss the mark and would be struggling for attention.

I won’t go through the Revolution’s grades on the above metrics, but let’s say that it isn’t great. At all.

However, the Revolution – by an odd combination of great luck, great timing and perhaps the idea that even a broken clock is right twice a day – have gone and trashed this idea for a useful blog. They did the unthinkable.

They got fans excited. Which kind of put a damper on this blog, the way the weather is trying to do on tonight’s match. (Hopefully unsuccessfully.)

They signed Benny Feilhaber. A talented, creative player with US National Team experience.

They signed a jersey sponsor and new corporate partner in United Healthcare. One that stands for positive messages about better health and hopes to get their message out to the soccer viewing/playing public.

Despite a fairly dismal report card on my metrics for local energy creators, there’s something electric in the air. (And despite the weather, I don’t think it can be called lightning.)

It’s interest. It’s energy.

So I’ve decided not to officially file a police report. My blog about the Revolution’s lack of fan energy being wholly deserved can be stolen. Frankly, rightly or wrongly, I prefer this energy. I don’t want that blog back.

Of course, having bounced between positive and negative more times than a Jabulani on bad astroturf, who knows what kind of energy will exist after a cold, rainy night game in Foxboro.

I do know this, a win sure would help keep this party going.


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