On Tuesday, the New England Revolution officially announced the acquisition of their third Designated Player and hopeful replacement for Adam Buksa, Giacomo Vrioni.
Vrioni comes to New England after scoring 19 goals in the Austrian Bundesliga, tied for the league lead, while on loan with WSG Tirol during the 2021-22 campaign. With 17 regular season tallies and four more in Europa League Playoff and domestic cup action, Vrioni totaled 21 goals with five assists in 30 appearances across all competitions with the Austrian club.
The striker, a dual citizen of Italy and Albania, represented Italy’s youth national teams at the Under-18 and Under-19 levels before switching his allegiance to represent Albania. Vrioni owns six senior caps with the Albania National Team since debuting in 2018, including four UEFA Nations League appearances.
“I am excited to start this next chapter of my life and career in Boston and Major League Soccer with the New England Revolution,” Vrioni said in the press release announcing his signing on Tuesday. “I have seen many talented players come from Europe and thrive in MLS, which is why I believe this is the right time to take this step in my career. I look forward to meeting all my new teammates, coaches, and the Revolution supporters soon.”
On Tuesday, Bruce Arena met with the media to discuss the acquisition.
“Giacomo, physically, has good size,” Arena said. “He runs well in and around the penalty area. He’s a left-footed player, as I said. He had an outstanding goal-scoring record this year in the Austrian league and we did make note of the fact that a number of players that have come from that league in MLS have done well, so we feel it’s a good fit.”
After the departure of Buksa, New England turned its attention to Vrioni. Arena said that the Revolution were looking for an attacking player whether that be a midfielder or a striker.
“We were looking for an attacking player, whether it was a midfield player or a striker, and obviously those positions required some different qualities for sure, but in the end, we felt that we had a good opportunity to bring a number nine who could be very successful in this league, and that’s why we brought him in,” Arena stated.
The head coach added that the club has been monitoring the striker for a “few months.”
With the Revolution having to deal with a massive European club such as Juventus, WPRO’s Tom Quinlan asked Arena how he sells the club to prospective players.
“This is new for the Revolution. I think we’re trying real hard to move the club forward. We realize that we’ve been a little bit behind in a lot of areas and we’re trying to catch up. I think over the last year or two, we’ve done a better job with our everyday environment here with our new training facility,” he said.
“In the case of Giacomo and some of our previous designated players, we can sell them on the fact that we now have a history as a club where we develop players and move players on to Europe if that is their ambitions,” Arena continued. “I think that was the case with Adam Buksa when we brought him in, certainly will be the case with Giacomo. Matt Turner has now recently left, as has Tajon Buchanan, so we are one of the few clubs in MLS, not that there aren’t a number that do it as well, that can develop players and move them on to what they believe are better opportunities for them in Europe, so that’s certainly a selling point.”
Revolution fans will have to wait to see Vrioni step up on the field for New England.
“He’ll be available once he gets his visa, and you never know how long that takes,” said Arena. “We think it might take two weeks from last week when we signed him, so he could be here probably mid-July, maybe a couple of days after. That said, maybe a couple of days before that. It just depends on the visa process.”
Arena and Vrioni are excited and that likely extends to the Revolution fan base. If Vrioni is able to find the back of the net at a pace similar to his time in Austria, fans in New England will be cheering his name throughout Gillette Stadium.