850 And Counting: Massive Revolution contingent set to descend on Red Bull Arena

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

New York Red Bull fans swarmed RFK Stadium with over 1,250 fans for the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal encounter against longtime rival DC United.

Now, they are about to get a taste of their own medicine.

Taking a cue from the Red Bull front office, the New England Revolution, led by President Brian Bilello, are supplying buses for fans willing to make the trek to Harrison, New Jersey. With little over a week until their showdown, Revolution fans have responded en masse with 13 buses hauling an impressive 850 travelers already accounted for the encounter.

“It’s a ton of work being done behind the scenes by leadership in both supporter groups and a huge focus for the front office to make sure the players have the best possible support at Red Bull Arena,” Brendan Schimmel, Executive Director of The Rebellion tells EOS. “There’s an ongoing dialogue and a flurry of emails constantly throughout the day with supporters group leadership and the front office working all angles and logistics.”

With just over a week until the first leg encounter, New England fans are closing in on their seat allocation.

“The max we are working with is 20 buses with a total of 1,150 seats for our section at RBA,” Schimmel says. “Although we expect the numbers to slow down eventually, it seems completely feasible that we will eclipse 1,000 supporters.”

With the backing of the Revolution, fans have responded to the travel in what Schimmel calls “unprecedented” numbers.

“We’ve only been actively selling for about 60 hours and we’re at 867 total,” he said. “Normally for the away trip during the regular season, we’re around two to three buses. If you asked me in March if I thought we could hit 1,000 on a road playoff match I’d call you crazy for asking, but I am more than happy to look foolish now.”

For many longtime fans of the club, the traveling contingent is a long overdue nod to one of the oldest, and most understated rivalries in MLS.

“In a crowded sports scene where the other major teams battle for headlines, the Revs are making it harder and harder for people to ignore,” Steven Erickson, a Revs fan since 2000, said. “The amount of support that we have gained this year has allowed us to do things we have only dreamed of in past seasons. Tifo displays that grow grander in scale and an away game support of epic proportions.

“It’s great to see that our actions [the leaders of the Rebellion] are coming to fruition.”

Heather O’Neill, an original ’96er who has followed the club every step of the way, concurs. “I’ve been a fan for a long time and have experienced every playoff berth and heartbreak that followed,” she said. “This year feels different. The team feels confident and completely in sync with each other. It’s been beautiful and exciting to watch. I’m more excited for this year’s Eastern Conference final than I have been for any other in the past.”


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