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Can the Revolution Revive their 2014 Magic?

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Can the Revolution Revive their 2014 Magic?

With only 10 games to play, the future looks bleak in New England. The Revolution currently sit seven points beneath the red line and behind the sixth-place Montreal Impact after 24 games played each. Equally worrisome is the six points they trail behind seventh-place Atlanta United FC and their one game in hand.

With only one Western Conference match left on the docket, the Revs do have an opportunity for some six-point swings. And an under-performing Revolution team did turn a summer swoon into a barnstorming run to the MLS Cup final not long ago. Could they do it again?

Comparing 2014 & 2017

Both squads found themselves in a similar place with 10 games remaining. Both were below the red line. Both were playing like a whole less than the sum of their parts. Both had a pretty similar set of results overall- 30 points in 2014 with a negative-five goal differential, compared to the 29 points and negative-one goal differential today.

The 2014 Revolution picked up a staggering 25 of the final 30 points up for grabs (going 8-1-1) and cruised to second place in the Eastern Conference- a comfortable 13 points above the red line. Their form carried them through the playoffs past D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls until LA Galaxy denied the Revolution an MLS Cup Final victory for the third time.

So why not a cup run again in 2017? A few of the pieces are in place already. Summer drought? Check. Recent return to form? Taken three wins from their last five matches. Summer DP signing? A DP and a TAM-level signing! Hey, maybe it’s possible! Even the pesky Galaxy are out of the picture this time around!

Why it’s… not possible

First of all, they have more ground to make up. In 2014 the Revs were outside looking in at a playoff spot, but just barely. Take a look-

They sat only one point under the red line set by the New York Red Bulls after 24 games a piece. The competition around them wasn’t much to shout about either. The Philadelphia Union weren’t terrible in 2014, but none of those squads on the bottom four deserved a playoff spot.

The Eastern Conference is better in 2017. The East has come up 41-29-25 against Western opponents so far this year. At this point in 2014, the East was a less impressive 21-33-25. It will take more to make the playoffs in the East in 2017. I wouldn’t count on much help from the other side of the country either.

The Revs themselves face stiffer competition as well. Their remaining opponents currently average 1.50 points per game, (more than the Revolution themselves at 1.21). Compare this to the average of their last 10 opponents in 2014 at 1.24 points per game. Measured by this season’s averages- that’s the difference between a 10-match run against a FC Dallas (1.5) or Montreal Impact (1.5), instead of an Orlando City (1.24), San Jose Earthquakes (1.27) or Real Salt Lake (1.19).

Jermaine Jones isn’t walking through that door. Claude Dielna looked the part on Sunday and Krisztian Nemeth is an excellent player, but I don’t anticipate these new signings providing the momentum or leadership Jones did in the second half of 2014. His immediate impact has only rarely been replicated by a summer signing in MLS (see: Nico Lodeiro, 2016).

This year’s squad has a steeper hill to climb in a tougher conference against more considerable competition with less impactful reinforcements. A run to the top of the table and deep into the playoffs is likely not in the cards. That said, a playoff appearance isn’t out of the question just yet.

So you’re saying there’s a chance?

Blowing another late lead and failing to win yet again against NYC FC on the weekend doesn’t fill anyone with optimism. Yet, Dielna may solve their problems at center back. Teal Bunbury continues to score, Kei Kamara has finally started to look the part in recent weeks and a proven attacker in Nemeth should be ready to contribute soon. Key players Lee Nguyen, Xavier Kouassi and Diego Fagundez are expected back in the squad after injury scares in the Bronx. The Revolution next face a woeful DC United side on short rest with an opportunity to build confidence.

Even so I would temper expectations. I don’t know exactly how, where or when Nemeth fits in, no one in the league knows what’s going on at left back for New England and losing Kelyn Rowe for 6-8 weeks is massive.

There are reasons for concern and glimmers of optimism aplenty, but one thing is certain- three points on Saturday make the Revs playoffs hopes look a whole lot brighter.

University of Alabama alum who watches too much soccer. Writing about the New England Revolution for Trifecta Network. Previously covered SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL and high school sports in the state of Maine.

New England Revolution

Is The Risk Worth The Reward With Brad Friedel?

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Patriots

On Monday, November 13th, New England President Brian Bilello and General Manager Michael Burns sat down at press Conference with Brad Friedel to announce him as the new Head Coach of the Revolution to the media. Friedel’s opening statement was as expected predictable, but had hints of honesty. “We have a lot of work ahead” Friedel said in his unique mix of a British and American accent “but we do have a lot of good players here and a lot of good pieces to this club.” He continued by making a promise to the club. “One thing that we can guarantee you – because you never want to guarantee too much in sport – is that you’ll get 100 percent commitment from myself and my staff, as well as the players.”

Since the hiring, many soccer pundits and Revs fans have been quick to point out that the risk with Friedel. Like Jay Heaps before him, he has very little coaching experience. His only head coaching experience was at the youth level meaning he has no senior experience. But if you followed coach Friedel’s introduction to the club in Foxborough, there were plenty of signs of hope.

Brad Friedel is a legend on the field and made a name for himself playing for top Premier League sides like Tottenham and Aston Villa. In a sit down interview with Jeff Lemieux, Friedel talked about how he had not only gained experience on the pitch in England but also got a head start on his coaching. “When I was 40 I signed a contract to play on with Tottenham and I was contemplating retiring.” Friedel said “And part of the reason I didn’t was because I was able to go through my coaching while I was also playing.” Friedel help in the youth system at Tottenham and got to know and mold future stars like Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen.

After being in Europe for almost two decades, some wonder if Friedel will be able to adjust to the nuances of Major League Soccer. But Friedel has confidence that he is prepared for the transition. When asked about it he said “That won’t be hard to adjust to at all. Not every team over in Europe or England, for that matter, has these enormous budgets. Working at clubs like Blackburn as a player, but then at Tottenham, I know it’s a big club, but they work under a strict budget at Tottenham. You learn to work under whatever restrictions or not there may or may not be.” Friedel also has been has been studying the way American soccer is run. “The last two and a half years, I’ve been engulfed in the U.S. system the whole time. I understand the salary cap, I understand the TAM [Targeted Allocation Money] arrangements, I understand the DP [Designated Player] process, I understand how certain clubs operate under those budgets and certain clubs want to operate over those budgets.”

And when it comes to the hypothetical DP signing, coach Friedel will use his connections in the European soccer world to his advantage. “If – and im saying this is a big if – we want to sign a big name Designated Player, the likelihood is that I’ll know them personally.” Those kind of connections can only come from someone who has experience in the UEFA system.

Is Brad Friedel a risk? Yes. He is technically still brand new to being a head coach and has little experience in MLS other than playing. But the Revolution need to take that risk if they want any hope of staying relevant in a growing league like MLS. There is a lot to be excited about come next March, when the Revs get back on the Gillette Stadium pitch.

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New England Revolution

Brad Friedel Named New Revolution Head Coach

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Nearly two months after firing longtime head coach Jay Heaps, the New England Revolution have concluded their search for his successor. This Thursday the Revs announced the hiring of US soccer legend Brad Friedel as their 7th head coach in club history. Friedel, a former goalkeeper, was a key player for both club and country. He is best known for his time in the Premier League where played 17 seasons for Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Vila and Tottenham Hotspur, and his 3 world cup appearances including leading the United States to the quarterfinal in 2002.

Friedel was a favorite to get the job in a list of several qualified candidates. One of the reasons for his hiring was his connection to Revolution general manager Michael Burns who was a former teammate of Friedel’s on the national team. “When you really know a person like I know Brad in terms of what makes him tick and what’s at the core of Brad, he’s a winner” Burns said. “He’s always been a winner throughout his playing career.”

Some have brought up Friedel’s lack of coaching experience. But before taking the job, Friedel had coached the United States U19 team and won the CONCACAF U20 Championship as an assistant. He also has the highest ranking UEFA coaching license.

Former Revolution player and current ESPN broadcaster Taylor Twellman, who originally reported on the news 2 days prior to the announcement, recalled his prior meetings with Friedel and the hints that he would pursue coaching. “Quite honestly, all my discussions with him… have been very interesting” said Twellman. “And one where I thought unequivocally he wanted to be a coach. The way he talked about the sport and the way he looked at it, I was like you know this guy has the makings of a head coach.”

The Revolution have also brought on assistant coaches Mike Lapper and Marcelo Neveleff. While Tom Soehn, Carlos Llamosa and Aidan Byrne will be leaving the club.

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New England Revolution

A Guide To All Of The Revolution’s Head Coach Candidates

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New England Revolution

For the first time in six years, the New England Revolution are in the market for a new head coach. This past September they fired former head coach Jay Heaps after a combined 14 years as a player and coach. Since then there have been several rumors about who will take Heaps place, from former Revs players to international soccer legends. General Manager Mike Burns has said that the Revolution hope to have a new head coach before they make any offseason moves. Here is a list of all the potential candidates and their qualifications for the job.

Tom Soehn

Tom Soehn has been involved in professional soccer in the US and Canada since 1988. Early on in his playing career he played indoor soccer in the United States. Most notably having 248 caps and and 85 goals with the Wichita Wings. Soehn was part of Major League Soccer’s inaugural season when he was drafted by the Dallas Burn in 1996. In 1998 he was traded to the Chicago Fire where as a player he won MLS Cup in 1998 and the US Open Cup in 1998 and 2000. After retiring in 2000, Soehn became an assistant coach under Bob Bradley at Chicago. He then went to DC United where as an assistant he won an MLS Cup and a Supporters Shield. Soehn then took over as head coach in 2007 and won another Supporters Shield and a US Open Cup. In 2010, Soehn took the job as Director of Soccer Operations for the Vancouver Whitecaps. A year later he took over as interim head coach. In 2014 Soehn became an assistant coach for the Revolution. In September he took over for Jay Heaps as Interim head coach where he had a record of 3-1-1 for the remainder of the season.

Daniel Passarella

Regarded as one of the greatest defenders to ever play the sport, Daniel Passarella is a legend not only in his native Argentina but around the world. At one point he was the top scoring defender in the world with 134 goals. In Argentina, he quickly became a star at both River Plate and on the national team where he captained Argentina to win the 1978 World Cup. After his performance in the 1982 World Cup, Passarella joined Fiorentina in Italy where he set the Serie A record for most goals scored a defender in a single season in 1986, which lasted until 2001. After a stint at Internazionale, Passarella left Italy to retire at River Plate in 1989. Passarella then coached and lead river plate to several titles. After River Plate he coached the Argentinian National Team from 1994 to 1998 and lead them to the quarterfinals during the 1998 World Cup. He also coached the Uruguayan National Team but left during World Cup Qualifiers in 2001. Passarella’s last coaching job was a return to River Plate in 2007.

Brad Friedel

One of if not the greatest American goalkeepers of all time, Brad Friedel was a pioneer in the growing respect toward American players internationally. After playing for Galatasaray in Turkey and the Columbus Crew in MLS, Friedel joined Liverpool in the Premier League where he struggled to get playing time. Then in 2000 he was transferred to Blackburn Rovers were he became a starter. From 2004 to 2012 Friedel would play in 310 consecutive matches for Blackburn, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur, a Premier League record. His presence in the league lead to the likes of Tim Howard, Kasey Keller, and Brad Guzan getting starting jobs in Europe. On an International level, Friedel had 84 caps with the US National Team and played in three World Cups. Friedel has been the manager of United States U-19 team since 2016.

Pat Noonan

Pat Noonan was drafted in the first round of the 2003 MLS SuperDraft by the New England Revolution. He was an instant success for the Revs ending his rookie season with 10 goals and 7 assists and being the runner up for Rookie of The Year. Over the next five years with the Revolution, Noonan scored 37 goals in 119 appearances. In 2008, after a brief stint in Norway, Noonan signed with Columbus Crew where in his first year with the team he won MLS Cup, Supporters Shield and the Trillium Cup. He bounced around from team to team until his finished his career by winning another MLS Cup with the LA Galaxy in 2012. after he retired, Noonan became an assistant coach under Bruce Arena with both the Galaxy and most recently the US National Team.

Giovanni Savarese

In 1990 Giovanni Savarese moved from Venezuela to the United States to play college soccer. After college, he was drafted in the inaugural MLS Draft by the then New York/New Jersey MetroStars. Over the next eight years, Savarese played for many teams in the United States and places like Italy and the UK. He also scored 10 goals for the Venezuelan National Team in 30 appearances. In 2005, Savarese went into youth development for the MetroStars during their transition into the New York Red Bulls. In 2010 he became the director of the New York Cosmos youth academy and two years later became their head coach. As a coach, Savarese lead the Cosmos to 3 Soccer Bowl Championships and won in 2015.

Steve Ralston

Out of all the people on this list, Steve Ralston probably has the most history with the Revolution. He was drafted in 1996 by the Tampa Bay Mutiny. In his first year in Major League Soccer, he won the first-ever Rookie of the Year. When the team folded in 2002, he was the all-time leader in games played and in points. Ralston joined the Revolution and saw them through their most prolific run. In seven years with the Revolution, Ralston went to four MLS Cups, won a US Open Cup and North American SuperLiga, and became the clubs all-time assist leader. With the US National Team, Ralston made 36 appearances and scored 4 goals. The most famous of those goals was a goal against Mexico that clinched the United States berth in the 2006 World Cup. As a coach, Ralston has followed his old Tampa Bay teammate Dominic Kinnear as an assistant coach with both the Houston Dynamo and the San Jose Earthquakes where he currently is.

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