By Zachary Baru
Generally speaking, if it's a Sunday afternoon in late October, and tens of thousands of cars are pulling up, you are typically speaking about a Patriots game.
But in 2016, football is not the only option for this sort of crowd. Sunday, October 22 was all about soccer at Gillette Stadium. From the thousands who poured in early at Patriot Place, to the thousands of others tailgating in the parking lot, it was a celebration of soccer at Gillette, with 39,587 of the beautiful game's fans their to watch the Revolution close out the 2016 season with a 3-0 win over the Montreal Impact.
This was a dramatic difference from the season-ending match in 2005, when the Revolution played the Chicago Fire before 11,182 fans. But the Revs have come a long way since then, becoming a major part of the sports landscape throughout New England.
Not a believer? Kids, teens, young professionals and adults can be seen year-round throughout New England wearing Revs gear. And no, it is not just the soccer fields anymore, although those are even more filled with Revolution merchandise.
The popularity of MLS is very much on the rise, steady with the growth of soccer in the U.S. As the MLS and its teams focus on marketing the game more than cheesy promotions, the fans have bought in, and many are jumping on board.
Some of the biggest growth can be seen with young professionals in urban areas. They love soccer, love partying with the supporter's clubs, and naturally love MLS. And you wonder why a soccer-specific stadium within the city limits of Boston is so important?
The popularity of the Revolution and all of MLS is heading in the right direction. So where will this take us? Higher television and radio ratings? Higher ticket sales? A new stadium? 2017 looks to be an interesting year for soccer in New England. Soccer fans, you've waited long enough for this. Just sit back and enjoy.
Zach Baru can be followed @zbaru and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.