April 13, 1996 – New England Revolution’s first game
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Tampa Bay Mutiny 3:2 Revolution at Tampa Stadium (Att.: 26,473)
Rob Ukrop gave the Revolution a 20th-minute lead, finishing a Welton cross, Alexi Lalas starting the sequence from central defense. The Mutiny scored on three set pieces, Revolution defender Mike Burns disputing the foul that led to the third goal, saying “the referee (Zimmerman Boulos) knows he made a mistake.” Roy Lassiter’s 25th-minute goal tied the score, the first of his 27 for the season, which remains an MLS record. Ivan McKinley, who would play for the Revolution from 1997-2000, broke the deadlock early in the second half, and U.S. national team defender Steve Pittman converted off a Carlos Valderrama assist for a 3-1 lead, before Ukrop cut the deficit in the 70th minute. Ukrop would not score another goal for the Revolution, and was waived after playing nine games as the team set up roster space for acquiring Joe-Max Moore.
Team nicknames and uniforms were apparently chosen with the hope fans would be incited to respond passionately, and the Mutiny’s opening day crowd was considered more than adequate. Tampa Stadium had hosted large crowds for the Rowdies during the North American Soccer League days, but the Mutiny struggled for most of its existence. The Mutiny won the ’96 Supporters’ Shield, thanks mostly to the partnership of general manager Farrukh Quraishi and coach Thomas Rongen, but both departed after the initial season and the team declined due to lack of local investment and was disbanded in 2002. Quraishi worked with Massachusetts Professional Soccer’s Boston Bulldogs (coach by Steve Nicol) and Renegades, plus the Cape Cod Crusaders, and Rongen went on to coach the Revolution from 1997-98.
TODAY IN NEW ENGLAND SOCCER HISTORY