Following Thursday’s 2021 MLS SuperDraft the New England soccer media chatted with Revolution Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena for the first time since December. With the club being very active in free agent signings and transfers it was only natural for the discussion to move off of the draft and to the club’s roster.
The key takeaways?
Scouting during the pandemic, Alex Buttner leaving and Christian Mafla coming in, the return of Luis Caicedo, and another signing looming on the horizon.
Below is Arena’s answers to these questions in their full glory….
On Difficulties Of Pandemic Scouting, Another Signing coming, And Roster build
“It was not possible,” said Bruce Arena on scouting players in person during 2020. “It is a difficult year in that sense. I give a lot of credit to our staff. Remi Roy heads up a lot of that. Scouting, he did a lot of work on film. He was joined by Chris Tierney and Curt Onalfo and our coaching staff. A lot of the work during the year was done obviously with video. Obviously, we have a lot of scouting services and in this day and age, you can see players from all over the world and get their most recent games with no problem. So, that is the way we scouted. We also obviously used people in those geographical areas whose opinions we respect. And, then obviously just calling players and talking to them. And seeing what the right fits were. That’s the way we did it this year. In a typical year, we would go out and see those players in person on one, two, three occasions. We missed that this year, but I think and I am hopeful that we did a good job. We think that (Wilfrid) Kaptoum and Mafla are going to be really good additions to our roster. We will probably also sign another player before we start the regular season. And, we have a complement of domestic players in (A.J.) DeLaGarza, (Emmanuel) Boateng, and (Earl) Edwards (Jr.) that we have added to our roster. The other part that I find to be pretty exciting is now we enter kind of year three with this coaching staff but really it’s the second year. The first year was pretty short when we came in late. We fully know our players, they know us. They should be getting better, our team should be growing. We played a lot of young players in 2020 and we think when they step on the field in 2021 they should be better players. We are optimistic that we have a stronger roster this year and hopefully that means we are going to get better results. So, I look forward to the season.”
There is nothing official here yet, the club is currently connected to Icelandic international midfielder Arnor Traustason who is playing in the Sweedish top tier for Malmo.
On Alex Buttner Leaving And Christian Mafla Signing
“We did a lot of work in seeing (Christian) Mafla,” said Revolution Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena on the left-back position. “Mafla was highly regarded in Colombia. We did a lot of work. Again, the uniqueness of 2020 did not permit us to actually go and see the players in person. But we did a lot of work with him on film and did a lot of background on him and spoke to coaches in Columbia that we know whose opinion means something. So, we feel like we got a good one in Mafla. In the case of Alex. He is going to be a father for the first time this year and moving back closer to home was to his advantage. So, we were able to reach an agreement where he would go back to Europe and we did that.”
It is worth noting that Buttner the day after his contract was terminated with the Revolution has signed a deal with Apollon Limassol FC of the Cypriot First Division in Cyprus. According to the club his contract runs thru May of 2022.
On return of Luis Caicedo
“I think it is important,” said Arena when asked about the return of midfielder Luis Caicedo. “Luis when healthy, and we think he is going to be at 100% when he returns or close to it, he has some unique qualities that we missed in the midfield. In that particular position he is a ball winner, he has pace, and he gives us a little bit of bite in the center midfield. I think that those qualities will complement the players that play ahead of him.”
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