The New England Revolution enter their 25th season in Major League Soccer looking to lift that elusive first MLS Cup. New England had a productive offseason in terms of player acquisitions, opening a new $35 million training facility and launching a USL League One affiliate.
The buzz among fans has rarely been as positive as the team heads into the 2020 campaign.
Much of the optimism stems from head coach/sporting director Bruce Arena, who is entering his first full season at the helm of the Revolution. Arena is arguably the best soccer coach in American history and has won five MLS Cups. He has an entire season to mold the Revs in his image and add a piece of hardware to the club’s trophy case — or, at minimum, get them back into the post-season.
New England Revolution kick-off 25th season against Montreal Impact
When: Feb. 29, 3:00 p.m. ET
Where: Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Canada
Broadcast: TV – NBC Sports Boston; RADIO – 98.5 FM (Sports Hub)
Live stream: ESPN+
The buzz: Bruce Arena starts his first full season at the helm of the New England Revolution as his team visits the Montreal Impact, who have a new head coach in French legend Thierry Henry. The Impact are fresh off an impressive performance against Saprissa in Concacaf Champions League, but kick off the 2020 MLS regular season slate without playmaker Ignacio Piatti, who departed three weeks ago to sign with San Lorenzo in his native Argentina.
Montreal’s home venue is typically Stade Saputo, but this match is being played indoors at the Olympic Stadium due to frigid weather. Over 200 traveling Revolution fans are making the trip north of the border to cheer on their team.
Other key matches
March 7 vs. Chicago Fire FC
New England’s home opener at Gillette Stadium pits the club against its longtime rival, Chicago Fire FC. New England has no home stand longer than two games in 2020, though this match kicks-off a five-game stretch in which the Revs play four of five at home. Starting the season strong is almost exclusively predicating on getting wins in these games, with Chicago as the leadoff.
August 1 at San Jose Earthquakes
This is the start of New England’s longest road trip of the year – a four-game stretch that takes it from the Bay Area, to southern California, to Atlanta and finally Columbus. The Revs were unbeaten in trips to the west coast last season and face the up-start Quakes before visiting defending Supporters’ Shield winner Los Angeles FC.
August 29 at D.C. United
This match comes on the heels of that long road trip, and by this time in the season the playoff picture starts to take form. New England has never won at Audi Field, but doing so for the first-time in this match-up could have big implications for both teams. This looks like a classic summer six-pointer.
Check out the full 2020 schedule.
Quotes & Notes
• Midfielder Carles Gil — New England’s captain and a 2019 MLS Best XI member — did not play a single minute of preseason. He is out to start the season with an undisclosed foot injury.
• Gustavo Bou was New England’s leading scorer in preseason, with four goals. He also recorded one assist. Newcomers Damian Rivera and Adam Buksa both had two goals in preseason. Cristian Penilla and DeJuan Jones each had two assists.
• Henry Kessler got plenty of reps at center-back this preseason and could be Arena’s first choice to partner with Andrew Farrell. That said, the choices are a bit limited. Antonio Delamea and Michael Mancienne are the team’s only other true center-backs, and both have struggled with injuries this preseason.
• Defensive depth is a concern for New England heading into 2020, especially since Arena clearly envisioned having a fifth central defender on the roster when he signed Samba Camara from France in December. That said, Camara never joined New England, as his work visa was denied. As such, the Revolution are currently forced to make due with with four center-backs to start the new campaign.
Biggest offseason moves
• Purchased designated player striker Adam Buksa of Poland on a $4.5 million transfer from Pogon Sczcecin. Buksa recorded two goals and one assist in preseason.
•Signed veteran left back Seth Sinovic and midfielder Kelyn Rowe from free agency. Both players returned to New England, where their professional careers began, after stints with Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City, respectively.
• Selected central defender Henry Kessler sixth overall in the 2020 MLS Superdraft. Kessler saw extended time on the back line in preseason and could be a Week 1 starter.
• Signed midfielder Damian Rivera, 17, on a homegrown contract. The prospect scored twice in a 3-1 preseason victory over the Colorado Rapids.
• Third-string goalkeeper Cody Cropper’s contract expired and he subsequently signed with the Houston Dynamo.
• Central defender Jalil Anibaba was selected in the 2020 MLS Expansion Draft by Nashville SC.
• Veteran striker Juan Agudelo had his option declined and subsequently signed with Inter Miami CF.
• Veteran left back Edgar Castillo had his option declined and subsequently signed with Atlanta United.
• Striker Juan Fernando Caicedo’s loan from Independiente Medellin expired and he returned to his parent club.
• Midfielder Zachary Herivaux’s contract expired and he became the first Revolution homegrown player depart the team.
Forwards — Gustavo Bou, 30; Teal Bunbury, 29; Adam Buksa, 23; Tajon Buchanan, 21; Justin Rennicks, 20
Midfielders — Scott Caldwell, 28; Cristian Penilla, 28; Kelyn Rowe, 28; Carles Gil, 27; Wilfried Zahibo, 26; Diego Fagundez, 25; Luis Caicedo, 23; Isaac Angking, 20; Nicolas Firmino, 19; Damian Rivera, 17
Defenders — Seth Sinovic, 33; Michael Mancienne, 32; Alexander Buttner, 32; Antonio Mlinar Delamea, 28; Andrew Farrell, 27; Brandon Bye, 24; DeJuan Jones, 24; Henry Kessler, 21
Goalkeepers — Brad Knighton, 35; Matt Turner, 25; Jeff Caldwell, 25
See full roster details.