While most New England sports fans have been talking about the Patriots’ uncharacteristic off-season spending, another professional team that calls Gillette Stadium home has been hard at work ensuring that they too will be contenders in their upcoming season.
Generally viewed as an afterthought to both the majority of New England sports fans and the Kraft family, the New England Revolution over the last few years have given more casual fans a reason to acknowledge their presence in the sports landscape. Bruce Arena, a 2010 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and 2015 Werner Frick Builder Award recipient, wasted no time putting his stamp on the organization in May of 2019 when he came on board and has continued to do so with his moves leading up to the 2021 season, which will kick off on Saturday, April 17th in Chicago against the Fire.
Often chastised for being cheap in general, and especially neglectful of the Revolution, the Kraft family gave full control of the soccer operations to Arena when they hired him and there has been a noticeable shift in the mindset of the organization as a whole since his arrival.
Since taking over Arena has brought in Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa, both Designated Players the likes of which the franchise has not seen often in recent years. The selection of Henry Kessler with the 6th overall pick in the 2020 SuperDraft paid immediate dividends as the rookie notched 1,823 minutes over 22 appearances, and led the Revs in clearances, interceptions, tackles won, and possessions won last season. Kessler is currently on the US U23 roster playing for their bid to qualify for the Tokyo Summer Games.
Kessler isn’t the only Generation Adidas youngster on the Revs roster who’s playing for their country in Olympic qualifying. Tajon Buchanan set the fan base into hysteria with his brace against El Salvador in Canada’s U23 opener last week.
Without any major contributors from last year leaving the team, the Revs are in good shape entering 2021 and have improved with the additions of MLS veteran midfielder Emmanuel Boateng with his 121 regular-season appearances, and defender A.J. DeLaGarza, who has appeared in 266 regular-season MLS games. Both players experienced some of their best seasons playing under Arena during his tenure coaching the LA Galaxy and should bolster a group of players that are obviously excited to play for him.
There have been a number of other additions made to the roster who will be making their Major League Soccer debut’s this season including Colombian Defender Christian Mafla who has appeared in over 190 contests across South America and Wilfrid Kaptoum who is a 24-year-old midfielder from Cameroon who has experience in La Liga as well as a number of call-ups to the national team for Cameroon.
The Revs drafted promising forward Edward Kizza in the 2021 SuperDraft after the 22-year-old became eligible following an abrupt end to his college career. Kizza scored 31 goals in 53 appearances for the University of Pittsburgh and was a two-time All-ACC First Team selection The rookie from Uganda will look to earn himself minutes in the attacking end in his first season in the MLS.
The Revs’ most recent roster addition, Arnór Ingvi Traustason, comes to New England with an impressive resume that includes over 275 appearances in the top leagues of Sweden, Greece, Austria, Norway, and Iceland – as well as 37 international caps with the Iceland national team. The 27-year-old is not currently with the club due to Iceland beginning World Cup Qualifying next week, but the club will be anxiously awaiting his arrival to integrate him into the mix early in the season.
On paper, the Revolution looks like a team that will once again contend for the MLS Cup. But games aren’t played on paper, it will be on the field where fans will see if the Kraft’s sudden investment in the team will pay dividends.
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