With “difficult” first year under his belt, Traustason has sights set high in 2022

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LOS ANGELES – Like many professional athletes, Arnór Traustason is his own biggest critic. Players rarely reach the top of their game without being hard on themselves to some extent, but the 28-year-old midfielder admits that he sometimes goes too far in burdening himself with the weight of expectations.

“I always expect a lot of things from myself,” Traustason said from the New England Revolution’s preseason camp in Los Angeles. “I put a lot of pressure on myself, which often is too much, but it’s good. I want to perform, and obviously last year my performance was not that great, so I want to have a good year.”

By his own admission Traustason didn’t make the consistent impact he had hoped to in year one with the Revs, despite making 29 appearances (19 starts) as the Revolution set the MLS single-season points record en route to the first Supporters’ Shield in club history. There were high points – both of Traustason’s goals came in a 5-0 win over Inter Miami CF in July – and he finished third on the team with seven assists, but he also made just two starts from early September through the end of the campaign.

As he aims to make a bigger impact in 2022, Traustason has history on his side. Foreign players arriving in MLS have long needed time to adapt to the rigors of the league, meaning year two should be a more accurate representation of what the player has to offer. For a prime example one needs only look to Traustason’s Revolution teammate and Poland native Adam Buksa, whose scoring output went from six goals and two assists in his debut 2020 season to 16 goals and four assists in 2021.

Traustason, who joined the Revs just as the regular season was kicking off last year, said he can already feel the benefits of being with the club during preseason and playing in a league he understands.

“I can just feel it right now – it’s a huge difference being with the boys, getting over things that we want to be done,” Traustason said. “Obviously it was difficult coming in last year. I had some difficulties personally, but obviously the team did great, so that’s good. I’m trying to build on my personal performances and I’m trying to fit in and trying to mold the team a little bit, so it’s going good.

“The things that I would definitely take with me [from last year] is that this is a very physical league – more physical maybe than I was expecting. So building fitness and doing everything with the team that we’ve been doing and we’re just building on, and for me personally, as well. It’s great.”

In some ways 2022 has already been a memorable year for Traustason, who captained Iceland in a pair of friendlies in mid-January. He has now made 43 appearances for his country, but wearing the captain’s armband was a different kind of honor for the Keflavik native.

“It was so great,” Traustason said. “Coach asked me if I wanted to do the honor, and I was honored. It’s something always that you dream of to wear the captain’s armband for your nation, and I was able to do that for two games, so who knows? Some more games with the armband? Who knows?”

There’s hope that it’s a harbinger of things to come for Traustason, who was in the starting XI for the Revolution’s preseason-opening 1-1 draw with Los Angeles FC last weekend. The Revs will be in action once again on Saturday night, visiting the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park. Kickoff is set for 10:30 p.m. ET with a live stream available on www.revolutionsoccer.net in the Revolution broadcast region.