BRADENTON, Florida – Argentine attacker Tomás Chancalay says he is relishing the responsibility of becoming the New England Revolution’s newest Designated Player.
The winger put pen to paper on a permanent move to Gillette Stadium in late November, having impressed as a midseason loan recruit from Racing Club to record one of the best goalscoring starts in Revs history, netting six goals in his first 11 league appearances.
Quick, strong, and competitive with a clever creative flair – and of course, a notoriously powerful shot – the 25-year-old made his club debut in August, and soon found MLS to his liking. Crediting his fast start to the faith bestowed upon him from the outset – the invitation to step out onto the stage and shine – Chancalay is ready to play an even bigger starring role in 2024, as he prepares for his first full campaign in the United States.
“I feel very good,” he said. “I feel completely acclimated, and I’m excited to start my first full season here in MLS. I think it will be good for me, for the team, for everyone. I hope it’s a great year for everybody.
“I like to have that responsibility [of being a key player this year]. I hope to give my best, and do my best to help the team. That’s my job here in New England, and hopefully, the pressure that comes with that helps to bring out the best in me to help the team.
“From when I got here, the team had a lot of confidence in me, and that really helped to kind of calm me down, which allowed me to play well, and perform well on the field, and do my best for team. I think it helped me to adapt and understand the dynamics of both the league and the team.
“I think the best thing in what we saw in my appearances last season was just the definition, and the quick movements that I've learned in soccer. They helped me to convert goals, and I hope that it continues that way.
“I hope I have good luck in that aspect, but I try to do my best to help the team – whether it's with scoring goals, or making runs, whatever is needed to help us on.
“I like MLS a lot. It’s a league that’s growing more and more every year. It’s competing with the bigger leagues across the world. I was excited to come here – there are big players, big coaches, big clubs, and it’s going to continue growing more and more.
“We’ve seen a lot of great players come into the league, and that motivates me to accomplish something nice here with the Revolution. Hopefully, we can reach the goals that we have set out for ourselves, and have a really good year.”
After signing his new contract, Chancalay identified the 2024 preseason as a potentially pivotal period for the club’s hopes of silverware: a fresh start with every player kicking off from the same level, and under the leadership of a new head coach.
With Caleb Porter then appointed in December, taking the reins in January, the squad are four weeks into their preparations for the new campaign, continuing their progress in Florida with three more exhibition games before the Concacaf Champions Cup season opener at Club Atlético Independiente on Wednesday, February 21 (8 p.m. ET).
Highly encouraged to showcase his creative spark, Chancalay is eager to unleash the Revolution’s formidable firepower in competitive action, and reignite his own hot scoring streak, as New England look to challenge on all fronts.
“Preseason is good,” he continued. “I think we are working really well together, and we hope that this time in preseason will serve to help us to start the season well in the Concacaf Champions Cup, and the MLS season.
“Preseason is very important for all of us to really pick up our rhythm, and in this case, we have a new coach, so we’ve been getting to know him as well. We need to learn new ideas, and that’s what we’re working on.
“We need to have a good level in preseason, and also have that competition within the team, which I think will help us to start this season very well. Hopefully, the reflection of that work is something you will see at the beginning of the 2024 season.
“There are a lot of conversations about work and what the team needs. I think Caleb is doing a really good job with the team. He’s trying to implement his concepts, his ideas for the season, and hopefully, we can adapt quickly, and we can see that reflected within the first few weeks.
“We’re all together [in Florida], and it’s a good opportunity to build friendships – we’re spending a lot of time together because it’s a lengthy preseason. I have good friendships with all of my teammates – obviously, with the other Spanish speakers, it’s a little easier for me to facilitate those friendships and communicate with them, but I try to get to know my teammates, and speak with all of them, regardless of whether they speak English or Spanish.
“They are all teammates that I got to know from last season, and I admired what I saw last season. I know their qualities for soccer, and I know how they can best help the team. We have great players, a great team, and they have all impressed me.
“I think what remains now is just to work a little more, and you’ll see things improving. It’s just about adapting to new ideas, and continuing to give my best to help the team improve. There’s always room for improvement in this game, and that’s one of the things I really love about soccer.”
Though ambitious (and markedly proficient when it comes to hitting a target), Chancalay opts not to add more pressure to his shoulders by setting specific milestones for himself.
However, with sights firmly set on silverware, he does intend to break records and smash in more goals, just as he smashed the many windows of his native Argentina with his hammer of a right foot (as his grandmother would attest).
So, can we expect to witness a world record for the hardest-hit shot (or goal) in soccer history this season?
“I don’t think so!” Chancalay laughed. “Hopefully, I’ll score as many goals as possible – but I don’t like to promise anything specific, because we don’t know what can happen during the year.
“Hopefully, it’s the best year of my career, but I know I have to work hard to make that happen.
“Trophies are something that's always talked about – it’s an objective that we identify early in preseason. We’ll do our best to reach that.
“We know it’s not going to be an easy journey, but we’re working hard to get there, and we’ll continue to work hard to reach those goals.”