The New England Revolution identified its core players heading into the 2020 season and shaved a significant chunk of money from its salary cap budget by deciding contract options Thursday.
Twenty players are under contract for next season, as the Revolution picked up contract options on defenders Andrew Farrell and Antonio Delamea; midfielders Isaac Angking, Wilfried Zahibo, Cristian Penilla, Luis Caicedo and Diego Fagundez; and forward Teal Bunbury.
Goalkeepers Matt Turner and Brad Knighton, and defenders Brandon Bye, Alexander Büttner and DeJuan Jones also all have guaranteed contracts in 2020, along with midfielders Tajon Buchanan, Nicolas Firmino, Scott Caldwell, Carles Gil, Justin Rennicks and Damian Rivera, plus forward Gustavo Bou.
The club declined options on defenders Edgar Castillo and Michael Mancienne, as well as forwards Brian Wright, Juan Agudelo and Juan Fernando Caicedo.
Fernando Caicedo joined New England on loan last season from Independiente Medellin with an optional purchase option, though the player returned to his parent club this week.
In addition, goalkeeper Cody Cropper is out of contract.
The declined contract options account for at least $2,425,875 in guaranteed compensation, according MLS Players Association figures. That gives New England coach and sporting director Bruce Arena significant cap space to bolster a team looking to build on its appearance in the 2019 MLS Cup playoffs.
Most of the players whose options were declined are marquee names.
Castillo, who broke two ribs in August but struggled to assert himself as a starter most of the season, previously represented the U.S. men’s national team and came into last season as one of the top left backs in MLS.
Agudelo, 26, was one of the U.S.’s top attacking prospects two World Cup cycles ago, but scored two goals in 22 appearances last season.
And Mancienne, who came to MLS as its highest-paid center back in 2018 and was due for salary bump that would have paid him over $1 million in 2020, also struggled with injuries during last spring and summer.
Cropper, another former U.S. national team prospect, is being scouted elsewhere, but could sign a new contract with New England.
These roster moves also revealed the parts of New England’s roster that need improvement. The team could use at least two new central defenders with Mancienne and Jalil Anibaba both gone, and a second right back to compliment Bye. With Wright and Fernando Caicedo gone, Arena may want to upgrade his side’s attacking options, too. Other areas of need for the team include depth in central midfield and on the wings, and finding a new third-string goalkeeper.
Goalkeepers: Matt Turner, Brad Knighton
Defenders: Antonio Delamea, Andrew Farrell, DeJuan Jones, Brandon Bye, Alexander Büttner
Midfielders: Scott Caldwell, Justin Rennicks, Luis Caicedo, Damian Rivera, Isaac Angking, Nicolas Firmino, Tajon Buchanan, Diego Fagundez, Cristian Penilla, Carles Gil, Wilfried Zahibo
Forwards: Teal Bunbury, Gustavo Bou