The New England Revolution has had a quiet offseason so far. Although they have re-signed several players, the only new names on the roster are Paolo DelPiccolo, Brad Knighton, Steve Neumann and Patrick Mullins. The silence at Gillette Stadium shouldn’t be viewed as a sign of complacency, but as proof that a talented core is now in place.
“In Jay [Heaps]’s first year, which was 2012, we were looking to sign players all over the field,” Revolution General Manager Michael Burns explained at Wednesday's media roundtable. “Last offseason we felt like we were a little more targeted and specific. This year, part of the reason that we haven’t made any signings yet is [because] we’re being really specific in the areas of the field where we are trying to acquire new players.”
The primary focus for the Revs heading into 2014 is signing a forward to replace Juan Agudelo, who currently plays for FC Utrecht. The Revolution has explored several options but finding a player like Agudelo, who exhibited great chemistry with his teammates both on- and off-the-field, simply isn’t an easy task.
“We’re looking for attackers and we’re going for forwards and they’re the most difficult players on the planet to try to find and sign,” Burns commented. “We’ll add some players, but it has taken a little bit of time.”
With Saer Sene injured, the Revs currently have three 2013 holdovers that are considered pure strikers, Jerry Bengtson, Charlie Davies and Dimitry Imbongo. None of these players had particularly impressive numbers last season as Imbongo’s three goals and four assists topped the group.
Despite the need for offensive reinforcements, Burns believes that it’s important to show patience when searching for the right fit.
“We could have signed a couple of players by now that we’ve passed on,” Burns remarked. “We’re in discussions right now with a couple players that we may sign, but nothing is finalized. We’re hopeful that we’ll have a player or two signed, a new player or two signed, by March 8th, but we’re not going to sign a player just to sign a player to say we’ve had a player signed by our opener.”
If a signing doesn’t occur before first kick, the Revs could look to Neumann and Mullins to provide offensive flair. Both players were dynamic attackers in college as Neumann had 41 goals and 34 assists in 86 appearances at Georgetown and Mullins offered 47 goals and 35 assists in 92 outings with Maryland.
The two players will continue to be tracked throughout preseason as a way of evaluating their preparedness ahead of the season opener. Although the Revs had Andrew Farrell log significant minutes last year, the team is erring on the side of caution and tempered expectations when it comes to Neumann and Mullins.
“I think it’s always a little more challenging for rookies that play offensive positions to make as big and as significant contributions as sometimes defenders,” Burns said. “We are hopeful that they are both going to make contributions this year, for sure, but to right now to put the expectation on them that we’re expecting them to start or start 20 games or come off the bench for 10 games – we’re going to patient with these guys.”
With Eastern Conference teams making significant moves this offseason, the Revs know that they must be active on the training grounds and competitive on the transfer market. Burns looks at last year’s success as motivation for himself and the rest of the team.
“I think we all realize that we’re still not where we want to be, even with the success of getting in the playoffs last year,” Burns enlightened. “I think we all realized that we were very close to not being in the playoffs. So, I think that sort of balance, at least for me, keeps everyone on their toes and really hungry to be as successful, if not more successful, next year.”
(image courtesy of Kari Heistad)