FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Major changes were expected in Foxborough following a 2011 season in which the New England Revolution amassed the fewest wins (5) in club history and subsequently missed out on the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Those changes began to take shape just two days after the season finale when the Revolution parted ways with longtime head coach Steve Nicol, and the shift continued Wednesday when Investor/Operators Robert and Jonathan Kraft announced a new executive management structure for the club.
As part of the reorganization, Brian Bilello was promoted from Chief Operating Officer to President of the New England Revolution, while Michael Burns was promoted from Vice President of Player Personnel to General Manager. Both will take on increased responsibilities within the organization.
Sunil Gulati, formerly President of Kraft Soccer, will remain a special advisor to The Kraft Group and the Kraft Family.
“Obviously with the season we had, there’s been a lot of discussion internally about what we need to do to improve the performance of this team,” said Bilello. “I think based on some of what you’ve seen happen today – and hopefully what you will be able to see going forward over the next few months – we felt that there were a lot of changes that needed to be made.”
In his new role, Bilello will oversee all aspects of the Revolution organization, adding oversight of the club’s soccer operations to his previous responsibilities, which primarily involved the club’s business activities. He has surrendered his other leadership roles within The Kraft Sports Group to focus solely on the Revolution.
Reporting directly to Bilello will be Burns, who will now lead all aspects of the club’s soccer operations. Previously overseeing the youth development program and the team’s operations and management, Burns now adds oversight of the coaching staff and player acquisitions to his responsibilities.
“There are a lot of things we want to do to improve this organization,” said Bilello. “Not just in the short term, but really set up an organizational structure to set up a system of having a philosophy of what we want to do, how we want to do it, being aggressive and giving this team the opportunities to compete at the highest levels of this league. That’s what we’re going to be doing.”
At the top of the current priority list is announcing a new head coach, which the club hopes to do within the next week. Bilello and Burns have headed up an extensive coaching search, which has included approximately a dozen candidates with varying backgrounds in Major League Soccer and the international game.
“We obviously want to get that done quickly,” Bilello said. “We want to be smart about the search. We want to make sure we’re talking to everyone that we’d like to talk to, so by no means was it a quick search. I think it was very comprehensive in terms of talking to enough folks and understanding where we want to be and what strengths they would bring to the table.
“At this stage, we’re trying to move quickly to close that out so we can move forward,” Bilello continued. “Because as you guys know, there’s a lot to do.”
In the short term, the Revs will be looking for significant input from their new head coach ahead of the Expansion Draft – a list of 11 protected players must be submitted by Monday, Nov. 21 – and the dual stage Re-Entry Process, which is set for the first two Mondays in December.
Longer term, the club wants someone who’ll fit with the organizational philosophy of the New England Revolution moving forward.
“I don’t want this organization outworked or outsmarted by anyone out there,” said Bilello. “I think that’s really, really important … From a very high level, I want to make sure we’re putting in the work. As much as it takes to get the best chance possible to win in whatever we do. Whether that’s winning in a draft, winning on the field, winning on an international transfer; whatever that may be, that’s key.”