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Another banner season in New England?

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Every day, when the New England Revolution players and staff head into Gillette Stadium, they cast their eyes to the gigantic banners celebrating the Patriots' Super Bowl triumphs.

They have no choice. It's not just because the banners are so big. It's because the aura surrounding the NFL's most dominant team is magnetic.

The Revolution admit to drawing inspiration from the organization with which they share a stadium, as they look to finally end a frustrating run of near misses in this Sunday's MLS Cup final at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

"It is certainly a big thing for us to drive into work and see what the Patriots do and be close to people like that," said midfielder Shalrie Joseph, one of MLS' most dominant players this season. "Most of all, we want to be able to hang one of those big banners of our own up there."

Head coach Steve Nicol's record of consistency is remarkable, having schemed and cajoled his team into the playoffs in each of his six seasons in control. Perhaps even more striking, though, is that not one of those campaigns has resulted in an MLS Cup victory.

Twelve months ago, the Revs came agonizingly close to their first league title, losing to the Houston Dynamo in a gut-wrenching penalty shootout. But with New England sports overflowing with positive vibes, maybe this can be the year they finally scale the summit of North American soccer.

You might think that living in the shadow of the undefeated Super Bowl favorite Patriots might make life tough for the Revolution. Especially with the Red Sox having blitzed their way to a sweep of the Rockies in the World Series, and the Celtics awakened from a long slumber by Messrs. Garnett, Pierce and Allen.

Instead, after an impressive regular season which included the U.S. Open Cup title, the Revolution hope to ride that wave of momentum to their first MLS championship in franchise history in a rematch with the Dynamo – and become another part of the reason why Boston is currently Sports City, USA.

"The thing about Boston sports doing well – it is infectious," said Nicol, a man who knew or cared little for American sports during his glittering playing career with Liverpool in the 1980s and 1990s but has made New England his home.

"It affects the whole area. When the Red Sox are champions, the Patriots are flying, the Celtics are selling out, it only helps us. People have responded to us. We have been getting good crowds and good publicity and it has been very positive."

Instead of getting buried as an afterthought with the fervor generated by other sports, the Revolution have only benefited. Even during the Red Sox's charge through the postseason, the Revs enjoyed strong crowd support despite plummeting temperatures and windy conditions at home games.

A championship would firmly establish Nicol's team in the hearts of a regional public that loves nothing more than sporting success. It'd give Sports City one more thing to crow about.

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