Bruce Arena has already begun to reshape the New England Revolution and he’s not done yet.
Since being hired as the team’s sporting director and head coach on May 14, Arena has brought in Curt Onalfo (technical director), Jarryd Phillips (director of sports performance), Richie Williams (assistant coach), and Dave van den Bergh (assistant coach).
The moves came in waves with each week seeming to bring a change. On Wednesday, Arena expressed contentment about his current coaching staff—at least for the year—but hinted that more changes are on the horizon.
“Well, for the coaching staff, I think we’re where we’re going to be for the year, and then we need to continue to build the technical side on the scouting and the academy side, and the second team for next year,” Arena said.
One project on Arena’s radar is the establishment of a pathway that links the academy to the first team. The Revs have signed six Homegrowns to date—all of which are still with the club—but only Diego Fagundez and Scott Caldwell have become regular contributors (though Nicolas Firmino and Justin Rennicks are in their first year while Isaac Angking is in his second).
Here, Arena sees opportunity. In his introductory press conference on May 16 he said, “we want to build a product here where some of our Homegrown Players are playing for the first team, as they are today. We want to continue to grow on that and make the entire program better.”
Arena echoed those sentiments on Wednesday, noting that “it’s important” to think about what the second team will look like for the Revs. This could take several forms, as we’ve seen throughout MLS. As Arena and his staff formulate their plan, he’s confident that we’ll start to see consensus throughout the league.
“There’s been a lot of different opinions in the league, whether it’s the USL platform or our own reserve league or U-20 teams, U-23,” Arena stated. “No one is certain at this point. I think over the next year and a half we’re going to come to some kind of agreement in the league as to how we put that platform in place to be between our first team and academy.”
It’s worth noting that Arena’s comments come a week after Frank Dell’Apa and Jonathan Sigal of the New England Soccer Journal reported that the Revolution are thinking about adding a USL team ahead of the 2020 season.