Over the next three weeks, MLSsoccer.com will take a look back at the 2012 season that was for all 19 clubs in Major League Soccer, starting with Toronto FC and ending with the Supporters' Shield-winning San Jose Earthquakes. You can find the schedule and comprehensive reviews for each team here.
2012 record: 9-17-8 (35 points); 39 GF / 44 GA (-5 GD)
Consider the first year of the Jay Heaps era in New England as a foundational exercise. The rookie head coach assumed control last winter and revamped the standard operating procedures on and off the field. Winning always topped the list of priorities, but this season always looked more likely to identify potential core players, lay the required groundwork for future success and nurture the necessary ethos.
The season unfolded more or less according to that template. New England confounded the early expectations and inspired modest dreams of a playoff push during the first half of the season. The dream died unceremoniously during the summer as the Revs lost their way and suffered through a 10-game winless streak that stretched from July to September.
A pair of wins to close the campaign permitted Heaps and his players to depart for the winter on a positive note. Now the onus falls on the Revs to build on the modest gains achieved in Heaps' first year in charge by undertaking the proper measures to compete for a playoff berth in 2013.
Best Moment of the Year
One of New England's two road wins came in shocking fashion at the Home Depot Center on March 31. Kelyn Rowe and Chris Tierney scored inside the opening quarter of an hour to set Revs on their way to a 3-1 victory over the LA Galaxy. The comprehensive victory ultimately stood as the most impressive of the nine triumphs registered during the campaign.
Worst Moment of the Year
The events of Sept. 1 stand out in a season with plenty of disappointing moments. New England announced before a home match with Philadelphia that leading scorer Saër Sène would miss the remainder of the regular season with a torn left ACL. The ensuing 0-0 draw extended the Revs' winless drought to 10 matches and tied the club record for the longest spell between victories.
The finest strike of the season also served as its best rebuke. Vancouver waived Lee Nguyen during preseason. The creative midfielder made his way to New England and punished the Whitecaps for their decision by scoring twice in a 4-1 victory over Vancouver on May 12. His second goal – a dipping volley into the far corner – earned him a spot in the final four in AT&T MLS Goal of the Year voting.
Veteran No. 1 Matt Reis and emerging backup Bobby Shuttleworth shared the goalkeeping duties as the season progressed, but Reis earned top spot with a fine save to preserve a 0-0 draw at Sporting Kansas City on July 21. Reis dove to his right and pushed Jacob Peterson's goal-bound header around the far post to secure his place among the contenders for MLS Save of the Year.
Nguyen picked up the honor at the end of the season for his injection of creativity into the Revolution midfield. The former PSV Eindhoven man collected five goals and two assists in 30 appearances in his first MLS season and established himself as a regular in Heaps' starting XI.
Instead of doubling down on Nguyen after his arrival from British Columbia, the hand shifts here to a pair of players who contributed to the cause in vastly different ways. Sène added a dash of pace and bagged 11 goals after making the move from Germany during preseason. Former D.C. United captain Clyde Simms supplied a more cultured touch as the deft holding presence in the base of the New England midfield.
1. Acquire experienced figures to provide the necessary grit: New England lacked a bit of veteran nous in the first year of the Heaps era. Recently acquired midfielders Kalifa Cissé and Andy Dorman addressed the concern somewhat, but the Revs crave a seasoned center back to further that quest and solidify the back four.
2. Find a way to get Jerry Bengtson firing in front of goal: The Honduras striker scored just twice in 13 MLS appearances despite displaying significantly better form for his country. He needs a bit more support up front, but the predatory striker must also develop the necessary chemistry with his teammates in order to plunder more frequently in 2013.
3. Increase depth through the SuperDraft: Heaps and his staff hit the road during the fall as the Revs prepare to use four draft picks in the first two rounds. Finding one or two potential contributors would aid the Revs as they attempt to strengthen the squad for next season.