The Revolution waited six offseason weeks to make an impact acquisition. But the club finally got its guy: Antonio Mlinar Delamea, a 25-year-old Slovenian center back who played the past six seasons in his country’s top division.
And Delamea couldn't be happier to join the Revolution. Following his international transfer this week, the center back expressed nothing but praise for his new club.
“The New England Revolution was the first team that came to me,” he said in a team release. “They showed me everything about the club and I was flattered. I already decided much before I joined here that I wanted to come here, and now I’m very happy and very excited to be here. As I say, I can’t wait for the league to start.”
Officially added to the Revolution roster on Wednesday, Delamea has already jumped into the fray of preseason training. And while the experience excites him, he recognizes the need to acclimate—both to his new club and his new country.
“We need to know each other a little bit. I need to fit in in the new system. I need to know what the coach expects of me. That is the most important thing for myself for the next six weeks,” he continued. “Second, I need some time to fit in, to find a house, find a car, but I’m not concerned because I have backup of the people here in the club who will help me and that is very nice.”
Though Delamea has a significant transition in front of him, Head Coach Jay Heaps believes the timing of his acquisition will expedite the process.
“Whenever we’ve brought players in in preseason, we felt like they’ve acclimated a little bit quicker than they do in the summer, especially a player like Toni who is coming from a different culture, a few time zones,” Heaps said.
In the end, Heaps expects the addition to fill a sizeable hole along his back line.
“I think that obviously a big piece of what we were trying to do was add pieces in the back. As a 25-year-old, he’s got a lot of experience, international experience as well in getting some games with Slovenia. We’re excited to bring him. We feel like he’s at the right age to help us,” Heaps said. “It’s not very often you can get a player from his club the way we did in terms of a transfer and able to get him here with our group for the start of preseason.”
As the preseason progresses, Delamea will compete for minutes alongside Je-Vaughn Watson, London Woodberry and a center back to be announced this week—likely Ivorian international Benjamin Angoua. Delamea should emerge from this group as a regular starter. Yet in spite of this expectation, he remains focused on the training ahead.
“I am looking forward for the very first game,” he said, “but we have now a long preseason to make and we start today.”