Bruce Arena sidelines 2020

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Even as he was guiding the New England Revolution on their deepest playoff run since 2014 and a trip to this year’s Eastern Conference Final, sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena was already hard at work building his roster for the 2021 season.

During a Wednesday afternoon interview with Zolak and Bertrand on 98.5 The Sports Hub – only three days after the Revs’ quest for an MLS Cup title fell just short in Columbus – Arena reiterated his desire to add “two or three players that’ll help complement the group that we have already” this offseason, before adding that the process is already well underway.

“(The offseason) will be busy, but we’ve done a lot of the work already … We’ve been working real hard,” Arena told Zolak and Bertrand, noting that he’d been on a call with player within the past hour. “We have our targets already. We’ve talked to them. It could be in a matter of weeks we finalize everything, or perhaps it goes into January and February, but I think we’re ahead of the curve right now and we’re hopeful we’re going to build a stronger roster for 2021.”

Arena credited Remi Roy (Director of Scouting and Player Personnel) and Curt Onalfo (Technical Director) with working hard to identify and recruit potential targets, which can be a painstaking process in the best of times, but has only been made more difficult by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The biggest impact is the fact that we really can’t go out and see players. It’s virtually impossible to go abroad and scout,” Arena said during his end-of-year media access on Wednesday evening. “If we don’t have people in those markets, it’s very difficult. Having said that, today you have access to literally every game in the world. The targets we have, we watched them play.

“We do a lot of contact with those players. We can Zoom and get to know them in person that way, so that part has been a positive. We’ve been able to do that, obviously. Even today we talked to players abroad about opportunities here in New England. We’ve been able to do that.”

Circumstances of the pandemic will present additional challenges, as well, Arena noting that there will likely be quarantine protocols for any players arriving from foreign countries, while adding that any potential preseason travel – a critical time for players to get acclimated – could also be affected.

With a current roster standing at 18 players following Tuesday’s announcement of moves, there is plenty of roster building to be done ahead of the 2021 season, with Arena also saying that the Revs are “confident” they’ll be able to re-sign a couple of the players currently out of contract with the club.

That process is well underway, and while there remains a bit of uncertainty as to when exactly the 2021 season will begin, Arena is confident that the Revs will have an improved roster come opening day.

“We’ve been working most of the year on looking at players to help support our roster,” Arena said. “That process has gone fairly smooth. I think where we are today, we’re actually kind of comfortable. If we can sign the players that we’ve targeted, we think we’re going to have a stronger roster in 2021.”