The Away End | New England Revolution with Jake Catanese 

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New York City FC will visit the New England Revolution on Saturday night.

For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to Jake Catanese, a write for the Blazing Musket.

Hi Jake, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been covering the New England Revolution?

Well I'm going to use the word "covering" loosely, but I have been writing with The Blazing Musket since 2013. Prior to that, I wrote a user blog on the old CBS SportsLine community page that primarily focused on soccer after that epic USMNT Confederations Cup win over Spain in 2009. With my work schedule now I primarily focus on things outside our day-to-day coverage of the team - more analysis/commentary posts, my infrequent Third Yellow series where I talk about refereeing decisions, our (mostly) weekly Know Thy Enemy game preview which features a question and answer segment with a local beat writer, and major U.S. Men's National Team tournament happenings. The USMNT coverage also includes doing a quick overview/primer for each group in the World Cup, Gold Cup, and the upcoming Copa America which I should probably start working on soon now that I think about it.

What has been your highlight in that time?

I've gotten to meet a lot of people from the Revs supporters groups that I've interacted with on Twitter over the years, which is something I'd like to do more often but alas, that three-hour commute to Gillette from Connecticut and my overnight shifts make this trip difficult to do consistently. Showing up to an early season Revs game in full Philadelphia Eagles gear after Nick Foles defeated the Patriots was very enjoyable for me though I doubt the rest of the tailgate remembers that as fondly as I do. I've also been able to cover several US Open Cup games/qualifiers involving CT-based teams like Hartford Athletic and amateur side Newtown Pride FC.

As far as a writing highlight, this is a strange one but I'm big in Belize. Or at least, we joke that I am. During the 2013 Gold Cup after the USMNT win over Belize in the group stage news came out that someone had offered to bribe the Belize squad to lose to the U.S. but they had refused and alerted Concacaf. I didn't think that story was getting enough traction and wrote a commentary post about it praising the actions of the debutant Jaguars. Before I knew it I had local Belize fans reaching out to me on Twitter and our site founder and editor having to explain to me that yes, getting over a thousand pageviews from out of the country was ridiculous and it is still to this day one of my favorite individual articles because I was so new to the site and still learning a lot of things though the archive of that post has been disabled as far as I know.

What were your thoughts on the 2023 season?

Ah yes, 2023...let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. The Revolution's 2023 season was as tumultuous as it could have been successful and that's why it hurt so much. This is not the first massive midseason swing I've covered in New England - Jermaine Jones' 2014 midseason signing and run to the MLS Cup, Brad Friedel's 2018-19 collapse, and Bruce Arena's revival are the highs and lows that seem to occur far more frequently in MLS than in other leagues, or at least in New England. The difference was that last season wasn't just related to a player's departure or a major injury and affected the squad just as much off the field as it absolutely did on it. This was a team in second place in the East that so badly needed last year to end that their first-round playoff exit was expected. It was a disappointing end to a promising start to the season for a team that just two years prior claimed their first major domestic trophy in the '21 Supporter's Shield and seemingly had a lot of momentum come crashing to a halt.

What are your hopes for the 2024 season?

The same as everyone else's - that Caleb Porter would run it back with a roster that was pretty good at the start of last year while getting a few players back from injury along the way in Dylan Borrero and Brandon Bye and make the run in the playoffs that we knew wasn't going to happen last year. It just hasn't materialized the way we all hoped it could have. The run in Concacaf Champions Cup play was nice right up until Club America routed the Revs in the quarterfinals but their league results have been a massive disappointment. We've seen turnarounds before like I mentioned above but that might have to be something that New England turns into a Leagues Cup success rather than an MLS one if a turnaround doesn't happen very, very soon. Like this weekend at home against New York City FC would be a good place to start that rebound with three points.

What do you think will be the deciding factor in Saturday's game?

Assertiveness. New England among other things has struggled to generate great chances consistently but when they do, it's usually on a very direct play or a counterattack. New England has usually been very successful at unsettling defenses by getting them backpedaling and having multiple runners attacking in different channels, opening up scoring chances not just for primary strikers like Giacomo Vrioni, Bobby Wood, and formerly Adam Buksa, but also from secondary or trailing runs by their wingers Tomas Chancalay and Dylan Borrero and previously Gustavo Bou. It also doesn't seem like the Revs generate second and third chances via sustained pressure too often which is something I think is also hurting the offensive output. This is a team that on offense might also be lacking some confidence and the best way in my opinion to regain that is to keep shooting to find a happy accident of a goal so the next one can be the product of great team play once you're on the front foot. They all count the same if they go over the end line between the posts and under the crossbar.

And for any fans that might be in Boston for a game in the near future are there any spots you'd suggest they check out?

Okay, we're going to break this down into increasing levels of things that are going to make NYC mad. First, The Blazing Musket are staunch supporters of both Bar Louie and Scorpion Bar at Patriot Place, which if you don't know Gillette Stadium has an outdoor mall complex attached to it and a lot of pretty big restaurants to stop in at before and after games. As far as Boston proper, you need to go somewhere with legit clam chowder - which does not have tomatoes in it. At least once you should go to the Union Oyster House to determine if you are, or like me aren't, a fan of raw oysters. My dad recommends the Fire and Ice hibachi restaurant in Boston and was super bummed their Providence location closed a few years ago. As far as a little closer to my home, yes you should stop in New Haven for some pizza (which is the best pizza in the world but there are a ton of great restaurants in that area and other pizza spots statewide too) but if bar pizza is more your thing then Colony Grill has four locations along I-95 from Stamford to Milford, CT. If you're looking for wings then Archie Moore's of Fairfield and Milford fame is a must.

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