New England Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe celebrates with forward Gustavo Bou (7) after the Revs’ 3-1 victory over Orlando City in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday in Orlando, Florida. AP Photo/Matt Stamey

Amazing things are happening in Foxborough.

A team driven by a relentless offense, a stout defense that bends but doesn’t break, and a man standing at the back of the formation calling out all the right moves. On the sidelines, the greatest coach in league history is leading the way as the team marches on to the conference finals.

I’m speaking, of course, about the New England Revolution. The Revs just wrapped up one of the greatest weeks in franchise history with a win in Florida over heavily favored Orlando City to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in six years. Incredibly, the eighth seed in the East is one win away from playing in the MLS Cup.

While most of us have been watching the Patriots stumble through a sub-.500 season (even after Sunday’s unexpected win over the Cardinals), the Revolution have quietly put together a team that believes it can win a championship this season.

That’s why Bruce Arena was brought in to coach the team last year. He’s the winningest coach in MLS regular season and playoff history. The first of his five MLS titles came in Foxborough in the inaugural MLS Cup, when he led D.C. United to a win over the Revolution.

Arena remembers that year fondly. He also remembers that it was just as strange and challenging as this pandemic-impacted 2020 campaign.


“Year one, no one knew what the hell was going on with the league,” Arena said to the media prior to Sunday’s game in Orlando. “We were all over the place in terms of the competition and stuff off the field.  A new league with not a whole lot of experienced people.”

Twenty-five years later, Arena’s experience makes him the perfect man for this job. He has assembled talent at key positions, especially up front. Carles Gil is a brilliant playmaker, and Gustavo Bou has a nose for the net. But the Revolution are not a one-dimensional attack.  Adam Buksa and Tajon Buchanan can spread the offense and make the Revs difficult to mark.

On the other end, Matt Turner has evolved into one of the top goaltenders in the league. His stop of Nani’s penalty kick in the 74th minute protected a one-goal lead and kept Orlando from taking the momentum. Shortly after that, Bou scored his second of the match and the Revs were on their way.

New England had to take the long road to get here, beating Montreal in a play-in game before knocking off regular-season champion Philadelphia in the first round. Five days later they were on the road again turning in another remarkable upset. The Revs have outscored their opponents 7-2 in three games.

There are a lot of new fans gushing over the Revs’ play. Arena wasn’t having any of it after Sunday’s win.

“We made some mistakes in this game and we’ve got to get it better for next week if we hope to advance to the MLS Cup,” said Arena.

It’s the type of comment you’d expect from a coach who isn’t satisfied with a semifinal win. He wants a championship, and knows his team will have to do a better job possessing the ball this Sunday at Columbus. In Orlando, the Revs held the ball just 38 percent of the time. Tough to win that way.

Yet win they did, moving on to another tough road game and winning over more fans. It’s been tough to find winning teams in Boston during the pandemic, but the other team in Foxborough is giving us something to cheer about.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: