The World Cup came to Foxboro Stadium in 1994. It was glorious.
Since then? Crickets.
Boston’s major-league teams have amassed 10 championships in that time and fans care more about Alex Guerrero and pliability.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, millions of sports fans from Bangor to Bridgeport lack any emotional attachment to the New England Revolution, Robert Kraft’s pro soccer team that debuted in 1996 in the World Cup’s aftermath.
Soccer has been on the verge of taking its place among the top three spots in the pantheon of American professional sport since the New York Cosmos packed 75,646 fans into the Meadowlands for Pele’s 1977 farewell.
Some 41 years later, America has stumbled back into the men’s soccer starting block. The World Cup begins today in Russia without an American entrant for the first time in 32 years. #Collusion.
We’re not here to bash soccer. That cliche should have been shanked before they shuttered the presses on Morrissey Boulevard. Hey, we’re all in with John Henry’s Liverpool squad, too. Those Liverpool Reds could use Hanley Ramirez at striker, given his familiarity with strikes.
Those of you who love futbol, love futbol. Only a fool would try to venture into that space without risking a kick to the shin. Boston-Foxboro is rightfully basking in its likely inclusion in the 2026 World Cup. The United States, Canada and Mexico put their trade differences aside to trounce Morocco in the bidding process. The United States by 2026 will have hopefully developed a men’s team good enough to earn a spot in the World Cup.
Major League Soccer has wedged itself as a major player in the under-21 fan space. New MLS stadiums are single-purpose venues with limited seating, putting fans close to the action as if they were watching the 1981 Celtics at Boston Garden. There are successful MLS teams that co-exist in cities with champions in other sports (see Houston).
The Krafts may still dream of a soccer-only stadium in Boston. The 2026 World Cup won’t make it real. The Boston 2024 boondoggle taught us there is no appetite in the Bay State for spending public money on stadiums or land for stadiums used by billionaires or quadrennial sporting events.
Perhaps the Revs are best suited for Providence. They remain an afterthought in Boston.
Boston was a hockey town with a baseball team while the Celtics were winning 11 titles in 13 years. Red Sox Nation then reigned for nearly 40 years. The Patriots were clumsy newcomers until an entire generation came of age not watching the N.Y. Giants on TV every Sunday in the fall.
Now, Kraft’s football team lives rent-free in our heads unless someone on Reddit tells us the Celtics are going to sign LeBron James.
There is simply not enough oxygen in the sports/entertainment space for the Revolution to thrive in Greater Boston, especially from Foxboro. A few World Cup matches eight years from now won’t change that.
Bill Speros (aka Obnoxious Boston Fan) can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets at @RealOBF.