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Dielna Brings Versatility to Revolution Backline

Dielna's signing was announced on Friday, July 28th

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Dielna Brings Versatility to Revolution Backline

Last week the New England Revolution announced the signing of journeyman French defender Claude Dielna. The 29-year-old has been attached to clubs such as Olympiacos in Greece, AC Ajaccio while in Ligue 1 and Sheffield Wednesday in the English Championship, but Dielna has spent most of his recent career out on loan to clubs of lesser stature. Over the past two years, the 6-foot center back has plied his trade for Slovakia’s Slovan Bratislava and most recently Romanian club Dinamo Bukarest.

The Revolution will add Dielna as a Designated Player or using Targeted Allocation Money pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa.

YouTube scouting and varied fan-reports paint the picture of an athletic defender (once given the moniker of “the Gymnast”) who finds his way into the attacking third often and sports a dangerous left peg.

Where does Dielna Fit?

Though most often seen in the center of defense, Dielna played 10 of his 25 matches with Sheffield Wednesday at left back during their 14/15 campaign. He found 3 matches on the left with Ajaccio during a 13/14 campaign as well. He may be a candidate to succeed an aging Chris Tierney and relieve Kelyn Rowe of his defensive duties.

Dielna will also compete with Ligue 1 loanee Benjamin Angoua and rookie Joshua Smith to complete a center back pairing next to Antonio Delamea.

Though not a splashy get for what is a potential DP signing, he does give the Revolution defense a bit of needed reinforcement after letting up over 1.6 goals per game thus far in 2017. Coach Jay Heaps suggested Dielna allows the Revs to give opposing teams a few new looks as well.

“It gives us a lot of options, and that’s what we need; we need options to be able to go three in the back, (play with) a center back with a left foot, or a left back with a little bit more aerial presence. Things like that are going to be important for us to have some options defensively.”

What would a three-man back line look like?

Here is my idea of a 3-5-2 featuring Dielna:

This formation takes advantage of the flexibility, athleticism and attacking prowess of both Dielna and Farrell, centered around the sensible play of Delamea. It allows Kei Kamara, Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury continue to fight for time up top, Lee Nguyen to pulls the strings, and Scott Caldwell to pair with a hard-nosed Xavier Kouassi or Gershon Koffie to hold down the center of the park.

Options at Wing Back

Rowe has admirably plugged the Tierney-sized hole in the 16/17 Revolution back line, but as his recent Gold Cup stint reminds us- he belongs further up the pitch. A role as a wing back may play to his attacking strengths and continue to provide the squad decent defensive cover.

Fagundez has been praised (and deservedly so) for the maturation of the defensive side to his game, but his inclusion as a left wing back may be worrisome against a more prolific attack. Tierney might find some joy in this role, but I question if he has the legs to cover an entire flank on his own for 90 minutes.

What to Expect in 2017

These left-sided question marks give me pause over a full-90 but may be more effective as a late tactical switch. Heaps has previously made the move to a three-man back line when in search of a late goal. I suspect this is when we will see the formation deployed most often this season. Though it should be remembered that the club was willing to make a complete tactical shift to the 4-4-2 diamond late last year.

Dielna will only have 11 matches at best to make an impact by the time he’s eligible to join the squad. I’m not sure he’ll find his home on the back line in that short a time, but the Revs will hope the Frenchman provides answers for what’s been a questionable back four (or three).

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

Kei Kamara Traded To Vancouver Whitecaps For SuperDraft Picks

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During the half day trade window between 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM ET on December 10th, the New England Revolution traded star striker Kei Kamara to Vancouver Whitecaps FC. In exchange for Kamara the Revolution have acquired Vancouver’s 2019 natural first round pick and a conditional second round pick in those years’ respective MLS SuperDrafts. If Kamara is re-assigned before the 2018 roster freeze, the Revolution will get Vanouver’s natural 2020 first round pick as well. If Kamara is transferred outside Major League Soccer before the roster freeze, Vancouver and New England will share the money earned from the transfer.

Rumors of the Whitecaps interest in Kamara dates back to 2016 when the Revolution first acquired him in a trade from Columbus Crew SC. There was reportedly a deal set for Kamara to join Vancouver in exchange for Octavio Rivero but it fell through. When Kamara joined the Revolution he was coming of the best year of his career. He had lead Coulmbus to an MLS Cup Final scored 22 goals and narrowly lost MVP to Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco. Yet with the Revolution Kamara never had the same consistency. After arriving in New England he had 7 goals and 2 assisits in 21 games in 2016 and 12 goals and 5 assists in 2017.

Kamara voiced is desire for a trade in a meeting with the organization earlier this year. “I feel bad for myself and for the club because I haven’t really produced for the club,” Kamara said. “They brought me here to score goals and do stuff and I haven’t had that impact, you know. [The meeting] was really about what’s best for both of us. I want to play here, I want to move forward.” Although Kamara is leaving, the Revs have attacking depth in their roster including Juan Agudelo and Krisztian Nemeth. It is clear that this offseason will be one of much change for the Revolution.

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Defensive Overhaul Highlights New England Revolution Contract Deadline Day

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This Monday, November 27, was the deadline for all teams currently not in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs to notify the League Office in writing of players whose options they are exercising and/or players who are receiving bona fide offers. The New England Revolution’s new head coach Brad Friedel called for a change in the club’s defense saying in a podcast interview earlier this month “I think you can look at stats, and stats don’t lie. Over 60 goals conceded is too much. That’s something we’ll need to address. We know what we need to address, and we’ll work very hard to address those issues.” The commitment to overhaul the defense was apparent when the Revolution announced their new roster on contract deadline day. Most of the players whose contracts were declined were defenders or defensive minded players. Those who are eligible for the re-entry draft may still be signed before December 14.

Nine players had their contract options exercised. Forwards Juan Agudelo, Femi Holliger-Janzen and Kei Kamara, midfielders Scott Caldwell, Zachary Herivaux and Kelyn Rowe, defender Chris Tierney, and goalkeepers Cody Cropper and Matt Turner.

Five players were already under contract for 2018. Forward Kriztian Nemeth, midfielders Diego Fagundez and Lee Nguyen, and defenders Antonio Delamea and Claude Dielna.

Seven Players did not have their contract options exercised. Forward Brian Wright, midfielder Xavier Kouassi, and defenders Benjamin Angoua, Donnie Smith, Josh Smith, Je-Vaughn Watson and London Woodberry.

Four players will be out of contract at the end of the calendar year. Forward Teal Bunbury, midfielder Daigo Kobayashi, defender Andrew Farrell, and goalkeeper Brad Knighton. Knighton is the only player who will be eligible for free agency.

Midfielder Gershon Koffie, who was with the Revolution on loan, will return to Swedish club Hammarby IF.

As of November 27th, 14 players will be returning to the Revolution in 2018.

GOALKEEPERS

Cody Cropper, Matt Turner

DEFENDERS

Antonio Delamea, Claude Dielna, Chris Tierney

MIDFIELDERS

Scott Caldwell, Diego Fagundez, Zachary Herivaux, Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe

FORWARDS

Juan Agudelo, Femi Hollinger-Janzen, Kei Kamara, Krisztian Nemeth

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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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