Designated Player

Bou braves New England winter to prepare for 2021 | “The expectations are high”

Gustavo Bou La Pantera goal celebration (2020, Colonial)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England winters can be harsh, particularly for the uninitiated, but Revolution forward Gustavo Bou nevertheless chose to stick it out in the Northeast through December, January, and February, declining to return home to warmer climes in his native Argentina.

COVID considerations and the birth of his second daughter, Nicol, in early January heavily factored into the decision to remain stateside, and although he looks forward to his next opportunity to visit Argentina, he delighted in the novelty of his first New England winter.

“Honestly, it was a nice experience,” Bou said via translator on Tuesday afternoon. “It was my first time spending the offseason during the winter. I enjoyed it a lot. It was a different experience for myself and my family. I’m very comfortable here in the city. I enjoyed it a lot. It was very cold, but I enjoyed it.”

One thing Bou didn’t enjoy about the offseason was the length, as almost three months passed between the Eastern Conference Final on December 6 and the league’s official preseason report date on March 1. Typically preseason camps begin in late January, but COVID considerations once again altered the plan, and CBA negotiations pushed the start of the regular season back to mid-April.

Several players, Bou included, stayed in touch during the offseason and frequently visited the Revolution Training Center to stay in shape, giving them a head start on preparations for the 2021 season.

“We use WhatsApp,” Bou said of staying in touch with teammates. “We have a group chat and we stayed in touch, seeing how everyone was doing. We knew it was a long offseason. Personally, I’ve never had an offseason this long. But it was good; good vibes. We missed being here and now I’m happy that we’re finally all here together.”

Bou will be particularly happy that the Revolution’s entire attacking corps is healthy entering preseason, after Carles Gil missed the majority of the 2020 regular season following surgery to debride his left Achilles tendon. Gil’s return late last year sparked the Revs’ run to the Eastern Conference Final and Bou was one of the primary beneficiaries, registering a team-leading three goals in the postseason.

Gil’s presence cutting inside from the right wing also allowed Bou to settle into his preferred position as a second forward in behind Adam Buksa, although the Argentine attacker said he’s comfortable anywhere in and around the penalty area.

“Obviously, my characteristics indicate that I like to play as the second forward, because I like touching the ball,” Bou said. “I also know that I’m a forward, and forwards live on goals. I’m trying to be closer to the (penalty) area and team up with Adam closer to the net. Hopefully I can incorporate that this preseason and continue my game. My characteristics are the same, but it’s always good to implement things that we’re practicing, and hopefully we can see them on the field.”

Bou will have a significant role to play if the Revs are to build upon last year’s deep playoff run, which required a pair of road wins after finishing as the No. 8 seed in the East. In 2021 the Revs are targeting a stronger start to the schedule and a better regular season finish, which would make their path through the postseason a little less complicated.

“The expectations are high,” said Bou. “We wanted to win it all last year, but it was important for us in terms of confidence. It’s important for us to start this season on a good note. We know we need to keep improving. We need to continue working with the new guys and competing to be the best team we can be on the field.

“The goal is the same: reaching the playoffs. This year the objective is to finish a little closer to the top seeds. Last year and the year before we made the playoffs which was good, but we were the No. 8 seed. That makes things a little more difficult with going on the road. Hopefully, God willing, this year we can prepare ourselves in the best way to reach the playoffs and our first objective is to classify as one of the top seeds.”