Starting this week, MLSsoccer.com will look back at the 2011 season team by team. We continue our 2011 in Review series with the New England Revolution. Click here for the full archive.
New England finally hit rock bottom in 2011 after watching their fortunes decline over the past few seasons.
The perennial Eastern Conference contenders finished last in the conference this past season — they were spared from finishing last overall thanks to the struggles of expansion side Vancouver Whitecaps — and posted the worst record in franchise history. Those poor results led to Steve Nicol's departure after 10 seasons on the sidelines and prompted sweeping changes through the front office after the campaign concluded.
Best Moment of the Year
Home Grown star Diego Fagundez marked his MLS debut with an electric performance in a 3-2 defeat to Chivas USA on Aug. 8. The 16-year-old drew a penalty and scored his first goal to reveal his potential to the masses.
Worst Moment of the Year
In a season filled with underwhelming performances, the timid 3-0 home defeat to Philadelphia on July 17 stood out as the most disappointing effort. Carlos Ruiz and Carlos Valdés scored inside 24 minutes as the Revs failed to start the game with any sense of urgency and ultimately succumbed with a whimper.
Benny Feilhaber completed a quick and tidy move with a long-distance drive in the Revolution's 4-4 draw at Philadelphia on Sept. 7.
Bobby Shuttleworth pulled off a fine double save – including an instinctive stop on Alejandro Moreno's whirling back heel – in the Revolution's 3-0 defeat at Chivas USA on April 30.
Veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis did not enjoy much protection behind the league's second-worst defense, but he usually kept his side in matches with his generally steady performances between the sticks.
US international midfielder Feilhaber offered a cultured approach in midfield, supplying four goals and seven assists after his arrival from Danish side AGF Aarhus in April. With some more consistent finishing from the attackers around him, Feilhaber could easily have topped double-digit assists.
1. Figure out how the new infrastructure works: Revolution president Brian Bilello and general manager Michael Burns assumed new roles during an executive reshuffle in November. The duo must adjust to their new responsibilities and discern how to guide the Revs back to the top of the Eastern Conference.
2. Devise a new approach: Bilello and Burns have already chosen former defender Jay Heaps to lead the team into next season, but they must now change the way the club operates. By the admission of both execs, the Revs must concoct new ways to analyze player performances and compile scouting networks in order to give Heaps a better chance to succeed.
3. Import new players to validate the new direction: Improving the infrastructure remains an important part of the club's rebuilding process, but those strides will not take hold quickly without a significant influx of talent. Look for the Revs to acquire proven MLS players in an attempt to bolster the squad ahead of the 2012 campaign.