Day four of New England Revolution preseason training is officially in the books. One thing that has become clear as we get to talk with more and more players is the sheer amount of players that stayed in-market and were at the training facility for a good portion of the off-season.
Some of it was due to COVID restrictions but having a good group of players in the training center during the off-season shows the level of commitment this team has to get going on the right foot in 2021. Many of the players have credited this off-season attendance as one of the reasons why they are able to get immediately on the ball in team training rather than focus on fitness initially.
As of now, the club has everyone in training camp or at-least within the home market with both Christian Mafla and Adam Buksa arriving. The lone absentee is defender Henry Kessler who is with the U.S. U-23’s in Mexico ahead of Olympic Qualifiers. No word at this point if/when Tajon Buchanan will be departing to join the Canadian team.
Thursday was a day of newcomers for the Revolution with Ema Boateng, A.J. DeLaGarza, and Wilfrid Kaptoum all meeting with the members of the local sports media. It was an interesting session with both Boateng and DeLaGarza being former players of Bruce Arena at LA Galaxy and Kaptoum coming over from Spain.
THe Bruce Arena Difference
When you talk to players about Bruce Arena they essentially say the same things. At a high level it is the fact that he knows how to win in Major League Soccer. Go a little deeper and players value the honesty that he has with them and his ability to keep things in focus. Both DeLaGarza and Boateng gave very similar answers when asked about Bruce Arena on Thursday.
“He knows this league inside and out,” said Revolution Defender A.J. DeLaGarza. “It’s different than any league in this world. In other countries, if the coach or the team is having a bad year, then you can go spend a couple million to go buy a player. But here you have to kind of figure it out with domestic players, with bringing in the right, because you only have three DPs [Designated Players], so you have to be very smart.”
“His knowledge of the game is just so vast,” said Ema Boateng on what makes Bruce Arena’s Coaching Style Special. “He knows the league better than I think any coach and league because he’s been coaching so many times and won so many games.”
Photo Credit: New England Revolution
So what does a newcomer coming over from Spain think of his new coach? Kaptoum was asked about Arena and it’s on par with what many have said about Arena in the past.
“My teammates told me that he’s a coach that’s very patient,” said Revolution midfielder Wilfrid Kaptoum via a translator. “He’s a great observer and he’s honest with his players. That’s a fundamental characteristic for every player. It’s great to know that the coach always has his eyes on you and he’ll tell you the truth. That helps players understand what they’re doing right or wrong so players can correct those things and improve. I can tell Bruce is a coach that has a lot of experience. He doesn’t speak a lot but he speaks the truth and that’s what I like about him.”
Being honest and knowing where you stand with a coach is big for players. It’s one of the many reasons why New England has become a more desirable franchise in MLS for players to sign with since Arena took over. It is hard not to already look at the hiring of Arena and call it a success. The entire mentality and the general feel of the team have changed dramatically since Arena took over. With that change and investment into the roster comes loftier expectations. This team has to win an MLS Cup sooner rather than later.
Arena Tips The Cap TO Boston Sports Market On 98.5 The Sports Hub
Bruce Arena has coached in New York City, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles in his long career as a head coach. It is not a shock to learn that he thinks Boston is the best sports market.
“I’ve been here now about a year-and-a-half, I don’t even know our fan base,” said Revolution Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena on the Zolak & Bertrand program on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “I really haven’t had a chance to see our fans, so I’m excited about having a somewhat normal year, and if we can get into the stadium and we have support and we get to know our fan base and I can appreciate a little bit more what the New England Revolution are all about. I’ll tell you, I’m so impressed with this town as a sports town, and I love listening to you guys how you beat up on all the teams. I can’t wait for you guys to start beating us up, because you’re going to have higher expectations for us. I’ve been in the big markets in this country. I’ve coached in New York, LA, D.C., and this is the best sports market.”
In a Forbes article in 2020 New England Patriots fans ranked as the second most passionate fan base in the United States and the Boston Red Sox came in as the tenth most passionate fan base. New England was the only market that had two teams listed and they took into account television ratings, attendance to venue capacity percentage, secondary ticket sales, merchandise sales, social media, and much more to come up with the ranking.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t speak to the New England Revolution but neither does Bruce Arena’s comments to 98.5 The Sports Hub. It is clear that the market has a massive sports base and up until this point the Revs have underachieved in terms of maximizing their popularity within it. A lot of reasons for that but with all the investments the club has either put in place or is in the process of implementing the expectation and the hope is for that to change in the near future.
Photo Credit: New England Revolution
Revolution Road Ahead
Thursday wrapped up a week where there were three media availability sessions and a Q&A with midfielder Tommy McNamara. Nothing is on the books as of yet for the near future but expect more from Revolution training in the coming weeks.
While the detailed preseason schedule is not yet available the expectation is for the Revolution to continue training in Foxboro for the next two weeks before departing to Los Angeles for the final three weeks of preseason. They are anticipating several preseason matches but at this time nothing is officially being announced.
For what it’s worth MLS has created a page where you can see and track all preseason schedules from its 27 clubs. From that, you can build a general idea of who could be available for a preseason exhibition match.
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