The New England Revolution followed up an eighth-place regular-season finish with a spirited surge to the Eastern Conference final last season.
The Revolution aim to build the same kind of playoff momentum when they start the 2021 campaign Saturday with a road stop to visit Chicago Fire FC.
Despite the late success, New England goalkeeper Matt Turner said he isn't looking to hang his hat on last year's run, which concluded with a setback against the Columbus Crew.
"Overall, we felt disappointed with last year," Turner said. "We feel we didn't put our best foot forward in the Eastern Conference final. That was a game that we could've very easily won just as well as we lost. That's something we want to put to bed. We understand that this is a team that can compete for trophies, and our fans want trophies."
The Revolution will have the benefit of a healthy captain Carles Gil to start the season. Gil underwent surgery on his left Achilles tendon in August before returning with a flourish, notably recording two goals and three assists in four playoff games.
"We can't expect Carles to be responsible for carrying or our team throughout 34 games," Revolution coach Bruce Arena said. "But I think you're going to see a player that plays at a really high standard and we could argue, could be among the best players in the league."
Adam Buksa scored six goals and Gustavo Bou added five last season for the Revolution. Buksa scored in a 1-1 home draw against the Fire on March 7, 2020.
Chicago finished in 11th place in the Eastern Conference last season, and the team's prospects for 2021 are not positive, although coach Raphael Wicky isn't concerning himself with how others view his team.
"I know that when we have our roster complete and we have our (injured) guys back that we have a good roster," Wicky said. " ... There's a lot of quality in there and competition in there, and competition will push each other and make the players better. So with that, I believe we have a better team than last year."
Robert Beric will be looked upon to deliver something close to his scintillating 2020 debut season when he scored 12 goals in 23 matches.
Chicago, however, is nursing significant injuries.
Stanislav Ivanov is sidelined for four months following knee surgery, Fabian Herbers is out a few weeks with a sprained MCL in his right knee and Elliot Collier is dealing with a left ankle injury. Miguel Navarro (right ankle) and Igancio Aliseda (left thigh) are day-to-day with their respective injuries, per Wicky.
--Field Level Media