Over the course of the past year, the Revolution were front and center in Boston sports — and with good reason. The amount of good copy coming out the soccer side of One Patriot Place was staggering, and it made people wonder just what was going on with their club.
Here’s our top stories list from the 2019 Revolution season:
Friedel fired, Burns fired, Arena hired
A three-for-one special is our top story of 2019.
From 2:16 p.m. on Thursday, May 9 until just about 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 14 really turned around the fortunes of the Revolution. Brad Friedel, hired 18 months prior to the day, found himself out of a job following two lopsided games. The next day, general manager Michael Burns faced the wolves in the Boston soccer press corps; yours truly battered him in the opening stages of the press conference.
The Revs won their next game against San Jose, a 3-1 win with interim coach Mike Lapper in charge. But two days later, the Revolution announced Burns had been relieved of his duties in a 7 p.m. press release.
Some 14 hours later, the club named Bruce Arena as the new manager, and New England found its ship righted.
First playoff appearance in four years
The Revolution had missed out on playoff soccer for three straight seasons, but 2019 would not be a fourth season without it given the moves made in May — as well as two critical signings, but we’ll get to that in a second.
Prior to May, it felt as though the Revs had no chance to make the postseason. With only two wins out of the first 12 matches — losing to FC Cincinnati, the MLS newboys which had made five changes to their lineup and played a predominantly second-choice squad, was a head-scratcher — it seemed clear that the team needed a boost.
Firing Friedel and Burns was the start of something good. Hiring Arena — and honestly, the fact it came 14 hours later was a shock to the system — touched off what many who support this Original Ten MLS club hope will be the end of New England’s soccer trophy drought.
Two DPs lead New England in scoring
Suffice it to say that the signings of Carles Gil in February and Gustavo Bou in July were boons for the Revs. Gil lead the way with 10 goals and 14 assists, while Bou — who came to Foxborough during his offseason with Liga MX side Xolos Tijuana — scored nine goals and helped on two others.
Gil was incredibly effective from the penalty spot, and he got used to the rough-and-tumble nature of MLS in a hurry; his match-tying penalty against Portland near the end of the season was huge. He also became only the second Revolution player to score double digit numbers in goals and assists.
Bou introduced himself to the Revolution faithful with a vicious hammer strike against Vancouver, and helped salvage a pair of matches to help New England gain valuable points.
Now, what will Bou do with a full season ahead of him in New England? He’s had half a season to acclimatize himself, and he’ll have a full preseason starting in less than a month.
Revs add a third DP in offseason
One of the things that the esteemed Frank Dell’apa, the dean of the Boston soccer press corps, has been adamant about for most of this decade is that the Revolution needed to add a third designated player to the roster in order to be serious about winning trophies for the long-suffering fans.
New England and Arena took care of that third DP on December 20, giving Revs supporters an early Christmas present in the form of Polish striker Adam Buksa.
Buksa is a goal-scorer, much like Bou, and he has a powerful right and can score from distance.
Could the Revs have not one, not two, but three double-digit goal-scorers in 2020? Time will tell.
New England launches a USL League One side
And finally, the Revolution announced in October that it would launch a USL League One side in 2020, which would help bridge the development gap between its Academy and the senior team. Much like other MLS clubs, the Revs’ League One team will be called Revs II, and will play at Gillette Stadium.
The club named Clint Peay as Revs II’s manager, and he comes to Foxborough with plenty of experience. Revs II begins play on March 28 against Orlando City B — former Revs assistant coach Marcelo Neveleff was named OCB’s coach earlier this week — at Gillette.