Burgundy Wave: The Revs sacked Brad Friedel and are now unbeaten in 6. Are the Revs actually good at soccer?
The Bent Musket: I think we’re both of the same mind on this - I’m not sure the Revs are good, but I do know they were never the horrific side that was losing games by four goals for nearly a month.
The anchor that was Brad Friedel (and also former GM Mike Burns) has been cast away and the weight of whatever that was at the beginning of the year is gone. You can see it in all the players, in the locker room, on the field...there’s just a different atmosphere and outlook for this team. The style and formations seem simpler and the players are able to execute a solid gameplan, which clearly was an issue for the past year.
I have always said that on any day the Revs can compete with anyone in the league, this is after all MLS we’re talking about and nothing makes sense about this league anyway. But over the course of a full regular season, the Revs have proven over the past few years that they are not a playoff team. I don’t think that changes this year, but New England is on the right track to may turn that around quickly—perhaps as early as next year.
BW: How have the fans felt about Bruce Arena’s return to MLS?
TBM: Personally, I’m still upset at the 2014 MLS Cup match. The not salvaging the USMNT World Cup qualifying run is what it is...but Bruce is great and I think he’ll do very well with the Revs. The best part about Arena’s hire, in my opinion, is that the Revs are in desperate need of leaving the MLS 1.0 era and fully entering the Designated Player era of the league. Bruce did this with the LA Galaxy in 2008 and started a tremendous run with that team, signing and managing a lot of star players. The Revs have been so bad with DP signings (Carles Gil being an exception we’ll get to in a bit), that just his roster building prowess alone should benefit the Revs.
For the first time since the Revs acquired Jermaine Jones five years ago, the Krafts have actually done something that moves the needle for their soccer team. There’s a new training facility opening next to Gillette Stadium and for the first time in a while there are actually expectations that New England is investing in the organization and team as a whole.
Yes, the SSS in actual Boston remains the end goal and maybe Arena is a bridge or beginning to that, but in the short term, I’d expect the Revs to hit a few more home run signings in the near future and really make a big jump in the standings. There probably won’t be Atlanta levels of spending and I’d still expect some of the usual New England shrewdness/frugal spending habits to still linger, but there won’t be nearly as many misses on international signings.
BW: Which player (new or returning) has made the biggest difference for New England this year?
TBM: This is the part where we talk about Carles Gil because he is good at soccer. Gil is in the top 10 in MLS in Key Passes/Game, leads the team with four goals and five assists, and I believe has started every game for the Revs. He’s mostly a center midfielder and until the final minute of the Revs win against Houston when he was subbed out, had been credited with playing every possible minute so far in 2019.
Gil started the year on a bit of a scoring streak when no one in New England could buy a goal, but recently it’s been his assist count that has been climbing. He had three assists in June, including helpers on both goals in the 2-1 win over the Galaxy (in Arena’s debut) before the Gold Cup break. If New England can consistently find the back of the net, odds are Gil is going to play a big part in that.
Also included in the last Friedel/Burns signings of 2019 were a pair of draft picks in Tajon Buchanan and DeJuan Jones. Buchanan shows promise as a utility attacker off the bench but Jones as actually settled in well and taken over the starting left back spot from Edgar Castillo.