Coming off of a 2017 season that saw the departure of Jay Heaps, a new record for home wins in a single-season, and the sudden resurgence of Kei Kamara as the year wound down, things began to slowly start looking better for the Revs. Obviously, the year wasn't perfect, as the team failed to secure a win away from Gillette Stadium until the final game of the season, (which only happened thanks to a last second wonder goal from Kelyn Rowe). But as the offseason kicks into full swing, and the league welcomes in newcomer Los Angeles FC, the Revolution still have a lot left to accomplish.
The first splash the Revs made this offseason was the signing of former U.S. National Team and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeperBrad Friedel as their new head coach. Friedel, who at the time was a soccer analyst on ESPN, brings a massive amount of tactical knowledge and ability, having been able to both play and commentate games across the top leagues of England as well as throughout the US. The move was a bit of a shock, as many Revs fans had been eyeing former New York Metrostars and Revolution player Giovanni Savarese to become the new manager, as he had spent most of his retirement managing NASL powerhouse New York Cosmos. However, he was swooped up by the Portland Timbers just before Mike Burns and co. could get to discussing a deal.
Following the addition of Brad Friedel, his first move as manager was to trade away striker Kei Kamara, as his contract became a definite issue if this team was to get any better. Kamara, who came to the Revs in a trade with the Columbus Crew midway through the 2016 season, struggled to score at first, but slowly became a definite force up front, bagging 19 goals in 52 appearances with the team over the past two years. Kei was traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for a 1st round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, and a conditional 2nd round pick in the 2020 draft. With Kei's contract off the books, the rumors of new signings and meetings with players came flying in.
One of the Revolution's longtime targets, Thomas Abbey, had talks break down this past December as the team could not seem to reach an agreement with Ghanaian club Hearts of Oak. After a brief two week period of staying out of the rumor mill, a new name popped up throughout Revs twitter, Gabriel Somi. Somi, a Swedish Left-back of Syrian origins is currently playing for Ostersunds in the Swedish Football League. His Wikipedia page reports him as playing for the New England Revolution in 2018, and many Swedish media outlets had reported that Somi had been signed by the Revs, however the team still has not released anything official about the signing. Another name that floated around the rumor mill was Bolivian CDM Cristhian Machado, and reports had initially come out stating that he had been brought to the team on a loan deal, and was then retold by Machado himself, but the Revolution have still withheld any official statements confirming that he has been added to the roster.
After finally waiting months, the Revs eventually did make their first signing, as they officially brought on Homegrown Academy product Isaac Angking, of the Revolution's U-17 team. Angking has been a staple in the Revolution Academy for years, and the call-up to the first team is well-deserved. While Angking most likely will not see much playing time this season, he may end up following the path of former Academy graduate Zachary Herivaux, who was called up late 2015, and finally saw his first playing time near the beginning of the 2016 season, where he made an immediate impact, scoring a game-winning extra time goal in the U.S. Open Cup knockout stage.
Oh, you didn't think we'd forget about the new jerseys did you?
Wow, I never thought we could top how bad the kits were in the early 2000s, but dear god was I wrong. Apart from removing the signature chevron from the central collar of the kit, the design department thought blue on blue would be a great idea. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that we're shifting away from the classic Revs jersey look, but this definitely isn't the direction I had in mind to go in.
Overall, to give the offseason a grade so far, I feel as if the Revs have been a slight bit above average, and having both Somi and Machado linked to the team, as well as bringing on Brad Friedel and offloading Kei's massive contract, deserve a solid B grade, which can very easily be improved so long as Team President Brian Billelo delivers on his promise to bring in some new international talent this offseason.
Photo Credit: (MLS.Com, Bostonglobe.com)