Revolution Notebook: Q&A With Midfielder Tommy McNamara

Back on August 17, 2020, the New England Revolution acquired midfielder Tommy McNamara in a trade with the Houston Dynamo. The former Brown University Brown Bear appeared in 14 matches with the Revs and recorded 11 starts. In the playoffs, the 30-year-old appeared in four matches and recorded one-start in what was the deepest MLS Cup playoffs run in New England since the 2014 MLS season.

Following the end of the season, McNamara became a free agent but elected to re-sign with the Revolution shortly after the conclusion of the season. I had the pleasure of chatting with McNamara after day three of MLS preseason training and we hit a number of key topics. We talked about how things are going with the team, the expectations, why he decided to come back, and much more.

Below is the full Q&A from our call edited for readability.

How have the first few Trainings of preseason been?

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Tommy McNamara: “They have been good. A little bit of a long off-season with everything so it is nice to just get back playing again. The past three days we have pretty much played a lot which is great to get touches on the ball, be competitive with the guys, work our fitness with the ball. So it’s been an enjoyable first three days for sure.”

How was this past off-season different than others?

McNamara: “Yes, it was certainly a different off-season. Normally I would have spent more time at home but with the Coronavirus and the situation of not having access to a gym at home or if I did a public gym there is the risk that comes with it. So I stayed up in-market pretty much the whole time minus a couple of trips back home. So it was different, but it was good because there was a decent group of us so we were able to work together safely and be able to get touches on the ball and play a bit. So I feel very prepared for preseason and I think the other guys feel the same way that were there.”

A lot of Revolution players seemed to be in the training center prior to the mandatory arrival window. What does that show about the team’s commitment?

McNamara: “I think it speaks volumes. But, I think you have to take it a little bit with a grain of salt that a little of it was probably COVID-related. But also we were one step away from an MLS Cup and we want to win that cup. Being that close you can feel one of two ways. You can feel disappointed and kind of switch off and be like “wasn’t our year” and just move along to the next year. Or you can kind of use it as a way to motivate yourself. Of course, we were disappointed but a large group of us, and I am sure everybody that wasn’t around use it as a way for motivation. We were only one step away, we’re right there and we need to make sure we are right there and give ourselves a chance again this year.”

New England Revolution and Columbus Crew play in the MLS Eastern Conference Finals Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Can this team win the MLS Cup in 2021 given the bulk of the core is returning and additions that the team made?

McNamara: “I do, yeah. Like you said we brought back pretty much the whole core of guys that played throughout the playoffs come back. Obviously, we made a couple of additions, we will see if there will be anymore. But, believe the additions only just arrived. We believe that they will be good players and they are going to help us. It’s a long way off from the MLS Cup so we have to take it step-by-step. We recognize that we need to improve our home form this year. We need to make sure that we finish higher in the Eastern Conference table this year so we can have more home games during the playoffs and that will give us a better chance of playing at home to make it to MLS Cup and hopefully win it.”

What went into you wanting to be back here for this season?

McNamara: “It was pretty easy, to be honest. We didn’t speak about my contract situation until the season ended. But from my point of view, I wanted to remain here if we could work something out and I am very happy that we were able to work something out. But it was an easy decision. As soon as I walked into the team come August it was a great group of guys that really welcomed me. I feel very at home here off the field, going to school (Brown University) in Providence (Rhode Island), being close to New York. You know the team is very competitive. Bruce (Arena) is a guy that has won MLS Cups. I want to win my first trophy in my career and I just felt like this was a great place that I felt very comfortable within the team. I felt like the coaching staff understood me as a player and as a person and that really means a lot to a player and makes a big difference. And finally, I feel like we have the pieces in place to seriously contend for MLS Cup again and that’s what you want to do as a player, you want to win things.”

How does this Revolution team compare to the talented NYCFC teams you were on?

McNamara: “They’re different, there are different ways of building a team a little bit. If you look at it, there was at New York at the time David Villa, Andres Perea, Frank Lampard, guys that have won Champions Leagues, World Cups, etc.. And there was a lot of regular-season success but at the time it didn’t culminate in any playoffs success. And here, I don’t want to say it’s the opposite. That wouldn’t be the right way to put it. But since I have been here we were competitive in the regular season but when we were missing Carles (Gil) we struggled to really kind of put games to bed and dropped a little bit in the table. But once we got Carles back from his injury right at the end of the season and into the playoffs we were a very good team in the playoffs because we were so together. There was a very strong togetherness. That means a lot when you are trying to win these one-off games. It’s the teams that can stick together, that can be resilient, that will work for each other, and when mistakes happen the other players have each other back to pick their heads up or to cover for them, things like that. So they’re different, it’s hard to compare them. But, I feel like this team has just as much if not more of a capability to win MLS Cup than the previous teams I have played on.”

New England Revolution and Columbus Crew play in the MLS Eastern Conference Finals Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Does having Carles on the field take pressure of the players around him?

McNamara: “I don’t know if I would quite define it as taking the pressure off the players. But Carles, he is a special player. There is no doubt about it. Most teams in the league have one or two special players and those are the guys that win you the games. Ultimately when teams miss those players and when we missed Carles it becomes a little bit more difficult to get over the finish line in games. So when Carles returned we had that difference-maker back in our team like everybody else in MLS when guys are healthy. So that’s kind of the way I would describe it. I wouldn’t necessarily say it takes pressure off of people but when you bring such a talented guy into the team that can make a difference it’s always going to make a positive impact.”

What’s it going to be like to finally play in front of fans at Gillette?

McNamara: “It’s weird to come to a new team and not have fans there at all. So I have had very very limited interactions with (Revolution) fans. Obviously no face-to-face or even in the stands so I am really looking forward to it. I have obviously played here as an away player. They get great support in their games and you can see it as an opposing player. I am excited to be on the field and represent the fanbase and the club. But really I am looking forward to hopefully building little bit of a relationship with the supporters because what this game is all about and what we play it for, we play it for them because they bring so much to us.”

What were some of your favorite memories of playing at Brown?

McNamara: “I loved it there. You know I was very lucky. The guys on the team were just great people and my incoming class was a really big class, with 10 players. We are still best friends and talking to this day and we try to do a reunion once a year if we can. So it was just really great people on the team which is just made it so enjoyable and so competitive. It was just a wonderful school so everything off the field was great too.”

What would you say to Brown Players Who Are Sidelined Due To Ivy League Not Holding A Season?

McNamara: “It sucks obviously and I feel really bad for them and it is very difficult for all sports in college but especially the Ivy League sports with this whole situation. One of our kind of key pillars when we were there and I am sure it is still apart of the program is just being mentally tough. And, this is one of those situations where you have got to be mentally tough, the situation is out of your control, you can’t control what’s going on, all you can do is control your reaction to it. My piece of advice would just be to enjoy what you can enjoy in the moment and to prepare yourself and make the most of this time now to prepare yourself for when you are able to step back on the field.”
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