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Revolution a Club of Square Pegs in Round Holes



Revolution a club of square pegs in round holes

A center back at right back. A right back at left back. An attacking midfielder at right back. A brand-new formation. The captain on the bench.

These were just a few of the curiosities present in New England Revolution’s 1-2 loss to New York City FC on Sunday night.

Entering the summer transfer window the Revolution were desperate for help at fullback and congested up top. After the addition of DP defender Claude Dielna and TAM-level attacker Krisztian Nemeth, the Revs seem to be left with an unbalanced roster and a best starting XI (or even best-starting formation) that’s as clear as mud.

Against NYCFC

Last night the Revolution started with French center back Benjamin Angoua at right back, and right back/center back Andrew Farrell as a right-footed left back.  By the end of the match, Kelyn Rowe and London Woodberry made brief cameos at right back as well. That’s three different right backs, as well as a right back playing left back, for those keeping score at home.

Meanwhile, the club came out in a new 4-3-3 that stranded the Revs primary play-maker Lee Nguyen and arguably season MVP Diego Fagundez on the bench. Add in an up-to-speed Nemeth and that may leave out the red-hot Teal Bunbury with five goals in his last six games or Juan Agudelo and his eight goals on the year going forward.

While this may make for a fearsome set of attacking subs, you have wonder how players like these fight for spots, while a team with a clear injury report fields squads that feature 1-2 players out of position every match.

The past few windows appear to have not created the “competition” the club often likes to praise or true depth. Rather, the Revolution have a roster full of square pegs being shoved into round holes.

Who’s playing where?

Kelyn Rowe is currently playing more often at fullback than in the midfield this season. The recent US international came through UCLA and US youth camps as a creative number 10 and found his opportunity to play as a wide midfielder in the Revolution squad until his recent transition to the back line.

Players are often diplomatic when asked about their preferred roles- especially when they’re playing away from where the outside world perceives their natural position to be. That said, a few Revs have voiced their opinions over the past year.

“I want to play center midfield, whether it is forward or back,” Rowe told the Boston Globe in July. “It doesn’t matter. I like being in the center. Even if you don’t have the ball, you’re kind of directing everyone. You’re the guy. I like to be the guy.”

Kei Kamara has recently puzzled over his role with Revolution since his transfer from the Columbus Crew last summer.

“Maybe I wasn’t the right piece of the puzzle to help the team move forward,” Kamara said after the 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy on July 22nd. “I want to play here, I want to move forward, but if I’m not in the right system to score those goals, to move forward and to be an impact, it affects the fans because they want to see the best from me, and I want to give this club my all.”

Rumors suggested Kamara may have been moved to another club within the league this summer, but no move appeared. The DP from Sierra Leon now belongs to an even more crowded attacking corps.

Of those attackers, Juan Agudelo has seen time as the attacking tip of a diamond midfield, a sole striker, a winger and a secondary striker.

“Just put me on the field,” Agudelo said when asked about his role on the pitch by‘s ExtraTime Radio podcast last off-season. “See what happens and I’ll try to do my best wherever you put me, but I do enjoy getting the ball more often than a sole striker would be, I feel like I integrate myself a little bit better if I get more touches on the ball. Maybe right behind another striker possible. I feel like that’s what I can do, but also, I do have that strength to be able to hold up the ball in the box and create some things.”

Homegrown Academy product Scott Caldwell made a name for himself around the league sitting deep in the Revolution midfield next to Jermaine Jones. Now he finds himself now on the bench or playing a right-sided midfielder more often than not.

The Revs appear to be too flexible for their own good. While flexibility can be a virtue in a club as deep as conference foes Toronto FC or perhaps in the American footballing side they share a stadium with- the Revolution is no TFC, and Jay Heaps is no Bill Belichick. Their 8-11-5 record tells us as much.

What’s Next?

With the playoffs looking less and less likely as points continue to slip from their grasp, I wonder what this roster looks like come 2018. Can Mike Burns move potential odd men out like Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara or even Kelyn Rowe for value? Or even for, at long last, a fullback?

For that matter will Burns and Heaps still be around if New England misses out on the playoffs for its second consecutive year? Whatever the case, I would expect this off-season to be one of the more memorable in recent memory for the club as they strive to balance the roster and right the ship.

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?




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




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



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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