The New England Revolution have come a long way and while a lot of people deserve credit, Bruce Arena is towards the top of the list.
With their win over the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night, the Revolution broke the record for most points in an MLS season racking up 73 points. With one game left that total can get up to a spectacular 76 points before the end of the season.
Arena arrived in the middle of the 2019 season with the Revs coming off a season where they were below .500. After taking over as head coach and sporting director, he made an instant impact with New England going on an 11-match unbeaten streak.
With Arena at the helm, the Revolution made some big moves, After the team had acquired Carles Gil prior to Arena’s arrival, the head coach brought in Gustavo Bou as a Designated Player. The next year New England brought in Adam Buksa to complete the DP trio.
After the win, Arena put the last three years in his own words and it’s hard to think that it could be put any better than what the head coach said.
“Kind of remarkable,” said Arena. “I mean, I said that to the team, ‘Man, what a shitshow I inherited in May of 2019.’ To think how far they’ve come, is kind of remarkable. It really is. That shows the character of these people – not only the players, but the staff. You know, we come to work every day, it’s a pretty good work environment. And I guess, they accomplished more than any team in the history of the league. So, that’s a heck of a story. So, you guys all have something to write. You don’t have to write about the formations and all the other stuff. You can write about it. It could be a history essay.”
Another part of the Arena impact is the ability to develop talent. A clear example being Tajon Buchanan.
Headed into the 2020 season Buchanan’s role on the roster wasn’t guaranteed but the Canadian had a breakout season and will be headed to Club Brugge at the conclusion of New England’s season. Apparently, Arena knew that he could be an impact player since the end of his first season as head coach for New England.
“Well, he’s come a long way,” Arena said about Buchanan. “I remember telling him at the end of 2019, I was on the field with him one day in training at the end of the year, and I said, ‘Tajon, there’s no reason to believe that you can’t be playing on our team on a regular basis next year.’ I could see the talent he had, it just wasn’t coming together and there’s still ways to come, but you could see the potential he had as a player. He’s 22 years old, which in our sport now is considered probably old. But, he’s made a great jump over the last year.”
Another player who has developed immensely under Arena is DeJuan Jones. The left back touched upon the impact that Arena has had on the club.
“It’s been incredible,” said Jones, “Bruce came in and really just brought that winning mentality. He got everyone on the same page. He brought in some great players and I think this year, kind of putting it all together. That first year he took us halfway through the season. And then we had another year, last year, but it was a COVID year. So our first full year with Bruce, I think it’s just showing what good coaching and good players who buy in can do. So, we’re proud of our season so far, but we know we have work left to do.”
The Revs do have work to do with one more game left in the regular season, but everyone will also have their eyes on what has been elusive in New England for so long, an MLS Cup.