FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There’s a palpable sense of newness around the New England Revolution’s preseason camp, which began earlier this week in Foxborough. For one, the players reported to a state-of-the-art $35 million training center that opened its doors last month. What’s more, several of those players – seven, to be precise – are fresh faces added since the 2019 season ended last October.
Then, there’s sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. He is, of course, not “new,” having arrived last May to spark the Revs’ rampant second-half turnaround. But one of the most successful coaches in MLS history does bring a fresh perspective as he builds the squad through his first preseason in New England.
Arena’s primary objective in the next six weeks – leading into the season opener on February 29 at the Montreal Impact – will be to mold the roster he’s assembled into a cohesive team on the field, a task he said is made easier by the six months he spent with the squad in 2019.
“It’s different,” Arena said of starting with a team from day one as opposed to arriving midseason. “More importantly, we know the players and the players know us, so that makes it a little bit easier to start the season that way.”
In short, Arena and his staff have already built a foundation in New England – and a strong one, at that – and that’s allowed them to hit the ground running in 2020. There’s much less “getting to know you” and much more “getting to work,” because most of those relationships have been established.
That’s beneficial for the players, as well, most of whom know exactly what to expect from Arena on the training ground, in the locker room, and as a leader.
“I think the last six months were really helpful for all of us to get used to the new system, to the new things he brought to training, and all the other things surrounding the team,” said Antonio Delamea. “For me personally, it’s nice to work with a coach like Bruce. I’m really enjoying coming to training every day, and I think this is really important.”
“We know what to expect and what we’re getting into,” added Scott Caldwell. “Everyone’s excited. We had some time off, but everyone’s ready to take that next step, that extra level of hard work.”
Last year’s introduction also helped Arena build a level of trust with the players – not only because of his sparkling résumé and history of success, but because they saw firsthand how his training methods and approach to the game cultivated a winner on the field.
There’s no question, then, that everyone has bought in for 2020.
“We just need to stay humble, committed to the goal, and work hard every day,” said Delamea. “This is the only recipe to be successful. I don’t want to talk a lot, but what we’re going to achieve is just on us to go out on the field and show what we can do.”