Last season, the New England Revolution expected to compete for MLS Cup. Then that D.C. United knockout round game happened -- the one where the referee made a number of terrible calls, leading Jermaine Jones to get so heated that he got himself sent off and banned for six games. The Revs and Jones couldn't come to terms on a new deal, so they'll be without a player who was arguably their MVP over the last year and a half.
Replacing someone with Jones' tenacity like-for-like is pretty much impossible, but the Revs are hoping to match his production with the combination of MLS vet Gershon Koffie and Xavier Kouassi, who arrives from FC Sion in Switzerland. The rest of their stars are still here. The Revs will look a bit different without Jones in 2016, but their expectations are the same: make the playoffs easily, compete for MLS Cup.
2015 record 14-12-8, 5th place
2015 Playoff progress Knockout round
Key additions Xavier Kouassi, Gershon Koffie, Jordan McCrary, Sambinha
Key losses Jermaine Jones, Kevin Alston
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1) Bobby Shuttleworth; Chris Tierney, Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves, Jordan McCrary; Scott Caldwell, Gershon Koffie; Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury; Charlie Davies
Instead of touting a prominent DP, the Revs feature a balanced roster of perpetually-undervalued stars: Scott Caldwell, Chris Tierney and Andrew Farrell are just some of the players you probably haven't heard of but are quietly turning in solid performances. They're the Boston Celtics of MLS -- and who doesn't love the 2016 Celtics?
Charlie Davies, having sustained a near-fatal car accident in 2009, made his last appearance for the USMNT more than six years ago. In his second full season with the Revolution, Davies scored 10 goals on just 26 shots on frame. He's still just 29 and if he can put together another efficient campaign in 2016, he should find himself in the USMNT mix once again.
An inability to make leads stand up. When scoring first in 2015, the Revolution won just 55 percent of their matches, amassing a 12-4-6 record while dropping a potential 24 points. They went just 2-4-6 in all their other games, so it wasn't like they were much better coming from behind, either. Obviously, they can't leave so many points on the table this year.
March 12 vs. D.C. United. After jumping out to an early lead against D.C. in last season's knockout-round match, the Revs turned in a forgettable second half en route to a 2-1 defeat. Matches against United always have a hint of rivalry, but now it's heating up even more.