If you have been paying attention to the New England Revolution recently, you will no doubt be familiar with their struggles in the post-Bruce Arena era.
After Arena stepped down last season, the Revs have struggled to find consistency.

They ended 2023 with a 3-3-5 (W-D-L) record.  Even that sounds like a distant memory now, as the Revs have concluded their first dozen games of 2024 with a 2-1-9 (W-D-L) record.

Things further came to a head after their 3-0 defeat at home this past weekend.  Caleb Porter seemed combative in his post-game press conference, snapping at reporters and extolling the Blazing Musket’s Sam Minton to avoid getting questions from Twitter.


Here’s his response to a question about what it would take to see Dave Romney back in the lineup:


That’s a 100% fair question for Sam to ask, regardless of its source.  Porter’s response is telling of the pressure he may be feeling – given the abysmal start to the season.

All of this plays against the backdrop that, just 30 months ago, New England lifted the Supporters Shield in front of their home fans in October 2021.  Not only that, but they set a points record that has endured through the intervening years (though Miami may have something to say about that).

Now, New England is staring at the record book from the other end.  They are already setting team records for the worst start in club history.  Worse than that, their 0.58 points per game puts them firmly in the conversation for the worst seasons in MLS history.


Let’s examine how close New England is to setting the wrong kinds of records and what it would need to do to avoid that fate.


Points

Let’s establish a baseline here: the history of MLS is not as long as some other leagues, but long enough that the format has undergone several iterations.  The length of a season has changed, the number of teams has changed, and even the idea of allowing for tie games has changed.  As such, I will ignore team performances from 1996-1999, where ties would end in a NASL-style shootout.

From there, we can base our benchmarks for the worst season on 2 criteria: the fewest points and the lowest points per game, to account for the lengthening of the MLS schedule throughout the years.

Worst Points Total: 2001 Tampa Bay Mutiny – 14 points

Things did not go well for Tampa Bay in 2001.  They scored just 32 goals to 68 conceded and managed a lowly 14 points over the course of 27 matches.  They would go on to fold in January 2002.

New England has 7 points from 12 matches in 2024, about half the benchmark number of points in ~44% of the matches played. It is well within striking distance of Tampa Bay’s pace.

The Spooky Mutant Bats (TM) don’t hold the worst points per game since 2000, however.  That honor goes to…

Worst Points Per Game: 2013 DC United – 0.47 ppg

This gets my vote for the worst season in MLS history.  They managed just 3 wins in 34 attempts while scoring just 22 goals.

For what it’s worth, head coach Ben Olsen did not get fired for his efforts. He would actually continue to coach in DC for seven more seasons—until 2020. As bad as DC was in 2013, they still earned a Champions League slot by winning the 2013 US Open Cup.

Yes, the worst team in MLS history earned a Champions League berth.

New England is currently averaging 0.58 points per game, which projects to 19.8 points over a full season. However, that projection drops with every loss.

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Look, I get that it’s early.  There is still plenty of season left to be played.  We have all (as Revs fans) heard about how Sporting Kansas City didn’t win any of their first 10 games, and still made the playoffs.

There’s hope. But… I mean… look at this chart.

The black line shows the Revolution’s point accumulation through 12 games, with a dashed line estimating their final total using points per game. All the other lines show the six worst MLS seasons since 2000. You can’t argue that they haven’t played themselves into this conversation.


Goals For

The Revolution have struggled… well, everywhere, really. But more specifically, they haven’t been good at putting the ball into their opponents’ goal. They’ve scored just nine times in 12 MLS matches, for 0.75 goals per match.

If we project that pace over a full season, they would end up scoring ~25-26 goals.  Only 10 teams have ever failed to score more than 25 goals in a season, and a full 6 OF THOSE 10 came during a COVID-shortened 2020 season.

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New England’s 0.75 goals per match easily put them among the worst-scoring teams in league history.  They will need to find ways to hit the back of the net to avoid fighting for this record at the end of the year.


Goals Against

Luckily, as bad as New England has been at SCORING, they’ve actually…

What’s that?

They’re also very bad defensively?

The Revs have allowed 25 goals so far in 2024 and have conceded multiple goals in 7 of 12 contests.

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This chart shows the teams that allowed the most goals in MLS history on a goals-allowed/game basis.  The Revs are a bit further from worst-of-the-worst here but solidly in the mix.  If they continue at this pace, they will allow their opponents to score ~71 goals this season.  For reference, the current record is held by FC Cincinnati, who allowed 75 goals in 2019.


Once again, there’s plenty of season left for things to turn around.  But suppose, for a moment, they don’t.

How much worse would things have to get for New England to claim that record?


Playoffs???

Let’s end this article with a bit of positivity.  A beacon of light on a dark stormy night, surely.

The average number of points required to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference over the past five (non-COVID) seasons is 47.

With 22 games remaining and 66 points still up for grabs, and with a majority of the league qualifying for the playoffs, New England still has a reasonable chance to make some noise.

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They just need to right the ship, start scoring more goals, stop conceding so many goals, and earn 1.82 points per game from here on out.  1.82 points per game over the final 2/3 of the season.  There will likely be 1 or 2 teams that pass that mark this season, so New England will have to hope to be one of them.

Okay, maybe this isn’t the beacon of light people were hoping for. It’s not impossible, but the further into the season the Revolution gets at this pace, the deeper the hole gets.

If you want actual positivity, I may be able to help: IT’S MLS!

Good teams don’t stay good (ahem *2017-2023 LA Galaxy*), and the bad teams don’t stay bad.

Take FC Cincinnati as an example.  You no doubt saw them on a lot of the charts above.  They hold the record for the most goals allowed in a season, the 4th lowest goals/game in a season, and the 2nd fewest points earned in a 34-game season.

I don’t think you’d have difficulty finding an FCC fan who was willing to admit they were pretty bad for a good long while.

Now? They’re coming off an impressive 2023 season that won them the Supporter’s Shield and are right back at the top of the pack again in 2024.


There’s still plenty of time left for the Revs in 2024, but if things (continue to) go south… MLS thrives on unpredictability.
There’s always next year.

PHOTO: New England Revolution

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