In his first press conference of the preseason, Bruce Arena declared that six players from Revolution II trained with the first team on the opening day of the preseason. The statement reflects the growing connection between the New England Revolution and Revolution II, a partnership now in its sophomore year of existence.
Arena didn’t name individuals, but there are several players on Revolution II who would likely be considered for this opportunity; goalkeeper Joe Rice is one strong candidate, as well as midfielders Tiago Mendonca and Maciel.
Revolution II will enter their second season in USL League One this year, after finishing ninth out of 11 teams last season (5-3-8).
Record aside, the team showed signs of promise in 2020, with several players compiling arguments for first-team consideration; the team also gave first-team players starved of game time, like Justin Rennicks and Damian Rivera, a chance to earn some much-needed professional minutes.
In preparation for the start of their second season in USL League One, which is slated to begin around May 8, the roster has seen substantial turnover. Four players from the 2020 roster were released: Keegan Meyer, Ryo Shimazaki, Mayele Malango, and Simon Lekressner. A fifth player, Orlando Sinclair, also won’t return, since his loan expired at the end of the 2020 season.
Revolution II has signed half a dozen replacements across the offseason to fill this void. The defensive-centric group includes goalkeeper Marzuq Puckerin, defender Michael DeShields, defender Sean O’Hearn, midfielder Michel Costa Da Silva, defender Francoise Dulysse, and defender Prosper Figbe.
“I think [Revs II will] be a little bit younger,” said Arena. “There will be more of our Academy influence in that team, and hopefully we can make progress there where we’re developing some of our own players. So, we’re looking forward to that. I think this year in the second year, it’ll be a little bit of a smoother operation, and hopefully we keep moving players along and develop them.”
Arena added that one difficulty last year was allowing players to bounce between the two squads. In an ideal world, Arena said, that transition would be smooth, allowing first-team players to train with the first team and play with the second team. It’s a game plan that would cater to players like Rivera and Rennicks, who both impressed during their stints with Revolution II last year.
“We would have liked to have had [Rivera and Rennicks] practicing with us and playing games for the second team, but because of the protocols with the pandemic that was not permitted,” said New England’s Head Coach and Sporting Director. “We’re hopeful this year that we can smooth that out a little bit so they get all those experiences both with the first team and the second team, get a lot of playing time, and develop quicker. If we’re able to accomplish that this year, we’re going to make real progress with that program.”