FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The first major step in shaping the New England Revolution’s 2014 roster was taken on Friday morning when the club announced its decisions on exercising/declining contract options for next season. New England’s 2014 roster currently stands at 15 players after 11 options were exercised, joining four players already under contract for next year.
Nine players had their contract options declined, three players were waived and three others are out of contract.
While decisions weren’t finalized until recently and announced until Friday, the painstaking process of deciding which options to exercise and which to decline has been ongoing since the 2013 season kicked off.
“It’s certainly something that myself and the coaching staff continually talk about from the opening day of preseason all the way through the last game of the season,” said General Manager Michael Burns. “It’s a constant evaluation process and you do have some difficult decisions to make every year. I know we say that every year, but it’s very true.
“Every year, every team – including us – has some real difficult decisions to make in terms of how you envision your roster taking shape for the following season. So we’ve sat down and gone through it all, had some tough decisions to make, and they’ve been made.”
Negotiations will continue with some who had options declined or are out of contract
While nine players had their options declined and three more are out of contract, it doesn’t necessarily spell the end of their time with the Revolution. In fact, Burns noted that some of those players have already been extended new offers, while the Revs will continue to have conversations with others they’re interested in retaining.
“Just because a player’s contract option is not picked up or he’s out of contract, does not mean that he won’t be back,” said Burns. “That’s just part of the process.”
Burns didn’t reveal which players have already had new contract offers extended – and for some, the potential to participate in December’s two-stage Re-Entry Draft will play a significant role – but many of those negotiations will be playing out in the coming weeks.
Revolution thrilled to lock up Goncalves on a permanent basis
One of the biggest pieces of Friday’s announcement was the news that the Revolution has exercised the purchase option on Jose Goncalves from Swiss club FC Sion after the 28-year-old center back played on loan last season. Goncalves was awarded the captaincy in early May and is a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year, so there was rarely a doubt the Revs would push to make the move permanent.
“With what he provided us on and off the field this year, we’re looking forward to him returning,” said Burns. “We’re certainly glad that we were able to acquire him on a permanent basis.”
Goncalves had undoubtedly proven his worth to the club by midseason, but the Revolution didn’t exercise the purchase option until the offseason for a variety of reasons. Burns indicated that most loan and transfer agreements include set timelines on when negotiations can occur, but more importantly, the club prefers to let the players keep their focus on the field during the season.
“I think frankly it sometimes can be a distraction, not just for the player involved, but other players on the team,” said Burns. “Our feeling is that those situations, for all the players, are probably better suited to be done at once.”
Regardless of the timing, the Revs are thrilled that it’s done and Goncalves has joined the Revolution on a permanent basis.
With Agudelo’s work permit denied, Revs “monitoring” the situation
Juan Agudelo’s proposed move to Barclays Premier League side Stoke City was put in serious jeopardy on Wednesday when the 20-year-old striker was denied a work permit, leaving his future in question.
The details of Agudelo’s pre-contract with Stoke are unknown, but the U.S. National Teamer is out of contract with MLS and is presumably free to pursue a move to any club outside the league. Within MLS, however, Agudelo’s rights do remain with the Revolution as Burns revealed the Revs made him a contract offer prior to his departure.
Burns added that the Revs are aware of Agudelo’s situation and will monitor how it proceeds, but presently they’re allowing the player time to process recent developments and assess his options.
“I’m sure at the moment Juan has an awful lot on his plate and going through his head after having heard the news about his work permit being rejected,” Burns said. “If he’s interested in returning, then he’s a player we would absolutely welcome back and welcome the opportunity to have a conversation with him about returning to New England.”
Revs decline contract option on Reis while goalkeeper contemplates his future
One name fans have been accustomed to seeing on the Revolution’s roster for the past decade is Matt Reis, who had his contract option declined as he contemplates his future. Reis recently underwent surgery to repair a torn left quadriceps tendon and faces a 5-7 month recovery period, leaving the 38-year-old club legend to publically state there are tough decisions to make moving forward.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations with Matt from the coaches to the front office,” said Burns. “I think it would probably be more appropriate – at the appropriate time – for Matt to address his situation. He was not an easy one for us, but we made a decision to not exercise the option. But there’s obviously a lot more to it than that.”
Despite declining his option, Revs working to retain Davies
During an interview with local media shortly after the season’s conclusion, Charlie Davies spoke about his future with the Revolution and his aspirations with the club in 2014. Despite having his contract option declined, it seems likely Davies will be a member of the Revolution next season.
The 27-year-old attacker is currently on loan from Danish club Randers FC and while there is an option for a permanent transfer, it’s an intricate deal which the Revs are working through.
“Charlie’s a player that we would like to have return to us, but [his situation] is a little bit more complicated than some other ones that may have been a little bit more straightforward,” said Burns. “We are working and [we’re] in the process to hopefully have him back in a Revs uniform next year.”
With important step completed, Revs move forward to continue shaping 2014 roster
While discussions continue with many of the players who had contract options declined or who are out of contract, Friday’s announcement does create a baseline for how the Revs will proceed through the offseason. Initial steps to begin improving the roster have already been taken; case in point, Burns provided the quotes for this interview via phone while on an international scouting trip with head coach Jay Heaps.
“I think there’s definitely a correlation between some of the decisions we made and some of the areas on the field that we’re going to be targeting this offseason to try to strengthen the team for next year,” said Burns. “We feel that we took a step in the right direction this year, but collectively, the feeling is that we’re still not where we want to be. We definitely feel like we’ve made some strides, but we also feel that there’s room for improvement. That’s what we’re going to look to do in this offseason to make us even a stronger team next year.”