FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – With temperatures expected to approach 70 degrees later this week training will be moving out of the Empower Fieldhouse and onto the grass fields at the Revolution Training Center, where the Revs will continue their preseason preparations for another two weeks prior to departing for Los Angeles on March 24.
Details of that West Coast trip were finalized and announced late last week, as the Revs will play five exhibition matches in California against the LA Galaxy (x2), LAFC (x2) and Seattle Sounders FC, before returning to New England on April 10 to make final preparations ahead of the season opener on April 17.
Sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena addressed the media once again on Monday afternoon, providing several updates from Revolution camp in Foxborough.
Caicedo back to full health after missing all of 2020 through injury
Arena acknowledged that there will be plenty of competition in central midfield, where Scott Caldwell, Tommy McNamara, and Matt Polster are joined by newcomer Wilfrid Kaptoum and the returning Luis Caicedo, back to full health after missing the entire 2020 season following knee surgery.
Caicedo’s introduction to preseason training was delayed slightly because of COVID protocols after arriving from Colombia, but the 24-year-old was back on the field as a full participant on Monday morning, with Arena noting that “his rehab has been completed, basically.”
“There’s a lot of competition there and it’s an area we need to be better in,” Arena said of central midfield. “I think that was one position that stood out in the playoff game against Columbus, where they were playing [Darlington] Nagbe and Artur, and I think they had the edge in that game. That’s an area we know we need to get better in.”
Caicedo, who joined the Revs exactly three years ago on March 8, 2018, was an everyday starter in his first two seasons in Foxborough, racking up 61 appearances and 56 starts.
Buksa, Mafla both slated to join full training this week
Last Monday Arena noted that travel restrictions had delayed the preseason arrivals of both Adam Buksa and Christian Mafla, but after landing in New England last week and completing COVID protocols, both will be eligible to join the Revs on the training field in the coming days.
“In terms of where the players are at (with regards to fitness), they haven’t had any kind of full training yet,” Arena said. “Those two particular players, to really assess where they are now, I think they’re moving along fine.”
Buksa will be looking to build upon his first season stateside, having registered seven goals and two assists while navigating a new league and a new country in the midst of a pandemic. Mafla joins New England after a decade in South America and the coming weeks will be an important period for the 28-year-old left back as he adjusts to his new surroundings.
Buchanan being used in midfield role; set to join Canada for Olympic qualifying
Tajon Buchanan turned heads in last year’s Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, starting all four of the Revolution’s postseason games at right back and shining in the role despite having never started there before. That led some to wonder whether Buchanan might continue on the backline in 2021, or whether he’d move back to his more traditional role on the wing.
Arena answered that question on Monday.
“Likely in the midfield,” Arena said when asked where he envisioned Buchanan playing this season. “We know he can play in the outside back position, as well, but right now in preseason we’re playing him in more of an attacking role in one of the wide midfield positions.”
Arena also revealed that Buchanan will be leaving midweek to join up with the Canada Under-23 National Team for the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, set to take place in Guadalajara, Mexico from March 18-30. That means Buchanan will miss a significant portion of preseason with the Revs, but for good reason as he attempts to help Canada secure a berth in the Tokyo Summer Games.
Revolution II players slated to join first team for preseason camp in California
There are currently six New England Revolution II players training with first team, and Arena said that some will make the trip to LA when the Revs depart on March 24.
Jon Bell, Francois Dulysse, Maciel, Connor Presley, Colby Quiñones, and Joe Rice are currently in Revolution camp, and Arena said the technical staff will decide which of those players will be on the plane to California “in another 10 days or so.”