Search for strikers rolls on as 2011 kicks off
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – This weekend’s season opener against the LA Galaxy signals the end of an active offseason for the New England Revolution.
Changes were deemed necessary after a disappointing 2010 campaign in which the Revs missed out on the postseason for the first time in nine years, while increased roster sizes created ample space for additions. The Revs will begin the 2011 season with 11 new players on their roster – including five draft picks, five international signings and one Re-Entry Process selection – but further reinforcements are still expected even as the season gets underway.
“The process isn’t over,” said Vice President of Player Personnel Michael Burns on Wednesday during the Revolution’s annual Media Day. “We don’t feel like we’re there or where we want to be. Sometimes it takes time and we’ll continue to add to the roster as we see fit.”
In an effort to shore up a leaky rearguard which conceded a league-high 50 goals last season, the Revs acquired defensive help in the form of Ryan Cochrane, Franco Coria, Didier Domi and A.J. Soares. To aid in possession – a topic of much discussion throughout the preseason – central midfielders Ousmane Dabo and Stephen McCarthy were brought into the fold.
The focus now rests primarily on beefing up in the attacking third of the field, where the Revolution often struggled last season en route to a club-record low 32 goals.
“We need more help up front,” said head coach Steve Nicol. “I think that’s no secret.”
The inability to bring a striker on board before the season opener wasn’t for lack of trying, as both Burns and Nicol outlined the Revolution’s offseason efforts in that department.
“In the seven years that I’ve been here, [our technical staff] probably [accumulated] more air miles and touched down in more countries this offseason than any I can remember,” said Burns, who along with the coaching staff covered no fewer than three foreign continents in the quest for international players.
“Have we been trying?” Nicol asked rhetorically. “There’s only 24 hours in the day and every one of those 24 hours we’ve been talking with people; talking with agents, talking with players, trying to get things done.”
Those efforts almost proved successful in late February when the Revs had a deal in place for their first-ever Designated Player, confirmed to be a Turkish-based striker. The deal fell through at the final hurdle, however, when the player’s club decided against releasing him.
“We’ve been close on a couple occasions,” said Nicol. “On one occasion we thought we had it done.”
Although at this juncture the Revs have been unable to secure the services of an additional goal-scoring forward, the mission continues in earnest as the 2011 season gets underway. According to Burns, the Revolution will have a forward on trial next week as the club gears up for the home opener against D.C. United on Saturday, March 26.
Whether or not this particular trialist is the answer remains to be seen, but one thing is abundantly clear: the Revs won’t stop searching until they find the attacking help they desire.
“We need another striker, definitely,” said Nicol. “But we’re doing everything that we possibly can to make that happen.”