Head coach Bruce Arena likes what he saw from the three players who got their first New England Revolution starts on Saturday.
Arnór Traustason, Christian Mafla, and Wilfrid Kaptoum replaced Tajon Buchanan, DeJuan Jones, and Tommy McNamara in the starting lineup. The three off-season signings received high marks from their new coach.
“I thought they all did well,” Arena told media after the game. “Obviously, we’re bringing them along slowly. They need to get fitter as we continue to grow into the season and they will.”
Mafla and Kaptoum were both burdened by injury during preseason. On Saturday, Mafla exited in the 54th minute in exchange for AJ DeLaGarza. Kaptoum, who debuted in the season opener, made way for McNamara in the 63rd minute.
Traustason was absent during preseason because of international duty. After arriving in the United States and completing a quarantine period, the Iceland attacker contributed 81 minutes against D.C. United.
Arena was “pleased with the effort” of the three newcomers, particularly noting that Traustason “showed pretty well, considering the fact that he’s been with us for a week.”
All three players appear to have solid technical ability. Kaptoum’s pass completion was 82%, Mafla’s was 83%, and Traustason’s was the lowest at 70%. These players should help the Revs maintain possession as they look to break down their opponent.
When asked about Mafla’s performance, Henry Kessler was quick to recognize Mafla’s ability to pick out a pass.
“I thought Christian did well,” Kessler said. “I think he adds a bit of a flair with the ball. I thought his entry balls were really good. I thought when he got in either line or interior passes, were both really good. And he was solid defensively, so I thought it was a good performance from him.”
Traustason, Mafla, and Kaptoum will look to build on Saturday’s performance when they host Atlanta United next weekend.