LOS ANGELES – With a full year on the New England Revolution roster in the midst of his seven-year MLS career, midfielder Ema Boateng is eager to make an impact as he heads into his second season in Foxborough.
In a record-breaking 2021 MLS regular season in which the Revs set the league’s new single-season points record with 73, Boateng may have played limited minutes, but he made every one of them count with massive contributions.
Through his 382 minutes across all competitions in 13 appearances, including four starts, Boateng registered two goals and five assists.
“I feel pretty good,” Boateng said from the Revs' preseason camp in Los Angeles. “Every game going in, I just felt like I would be able to contribute. I felt that from the beginning of the season.
“It was just frustrating I wasn’t getting the opportunity, but that’s the thing. When it comes and you have it, you have to take advantage of it and almost every game, I would say every game when I came on if we were tied, we won. If we were losing, we tied. We ended up getting results. I would get an assist or make a play that would lead up to it.”
Boateng stepped up in big moments when the Revs needed to find a way to win games, with his stats including one game-winning goal and an additional game-winning assist.
“We have a great team so it makes it easier when you come in. We all know our roles on the field, I know how to help make the guys around me better, and they do the same for me,” said Boateng. “It’s a fun team to be on and hopefully with more minutes I can be as productive as I was last year.”
Boateng doesn’t need much time to show how dynamic he can be in a game setting. In as recently as last year's playoffs, Boateng’s game-changing abilities were immediately evident on the field.
In a very limited six-minute appearance off the bench in extra time against New York City FC, the 28-year-old recorded a game-tying assist on former Revolution player Tajon Buchanan’s 118th-minute strike, giving New England a fighting chance to advance in a heated penalty shootout.
From a league perspective, Boateng was one of the most effective players in MLS last year. He finished the 2021 season as the league leader in assists per 90 minutes, by a landslide, averaging 1.18 assists per 90 minutes played.
Revolution teammate and reigning league MVP Carles Gil finished second to Boateng in assists per 90 minutes last season, averaging 0.74 assists per 90 minutes played as he led MLS with 18 assists in the 2021 regular season.
Beyond Boateng’s clinical influence in his limited minutes, his presence in the locker room is also one of his constant key contributions to the team.
“He’s just a little punk,” A.J. DeLaGarza said with a smile. “He’s a lovable guy, honestly. He’s a guy you want to be around in the locker room, a guy that works hard no matter what his role is.
“When his number was called last year he definitely took his chances and that’s what I preached to Noel [Buck] the other day. This is obviously his first start, but take advantage of it because you don’t know how many of them there will be. You look at the older guys that take advantage like Ema and hopefully the younger guys can follow that.”