Revolution head coach Brad Friedel, President Brian Bilello and General Manager Michael Burns address the media on Monday, November 13.
President Brian Bilello: “I just want to say on behalf of the club we're very excited to have not only Brad [Friedel] here today and for the upcoming seasons, but his entire staff which is with us as well. It's a really exciting day for the Revs. I know we in the front office here are very, very excited. I know our fans are very, very excited. Brad and his staff can't wait to get going and get us started on 2018.”
Head Coach Brad Friedel: “I'll reiterate that. You're absolutely right, Brian. We are very, very excited to get started. I want to thank Brian [Bilello], I want to thank Mike [Burns], I want to thank [Revolution Investor/Operators] Robert and Jonathan Kraft for giving us the opportunity to take on this job. We have a lot of work ahead, but we do have a lot of good players here and a lot of good pieces to this club. I think I said in my earlier statement one thing that we can guarantee you – because you never want to guarantee too much in sport – is that you'll get 100 percent commitment from myself and my staff, as well as the players. We're going to, hopefully, get to the obsession that I have of winning and we'll work our best to try to get those wins on the board that we can.”
General Manager Michael Burns: “I'd just like to welcome everyone here this morning and to reiterate a little bit of what Brian and Brad said. It's a big day for the club. It's a big day for us, very excited to bring Brad on board. In addition to Brad, we have Mike Lapper, who will serve as one of our assistant coaches, Marcelo Neveleff, who will also be one of our assistant coaches, and Ruben Garcia, who will be our goalkeeper coach. As excited as we are to have Brad on board, we also have a new coaching staff. Hopefully, in the next days we'll be able to announce a new strength and conditioning coach as well. So, it is a new staff. We're very excited to get going. We have a lot of work to do. We're looking forward to '18 and beyond.”
On adjusting to Major League Soccer's roster mechanisms after a long playing career in England:
Head Coach Brad Friedel: “That won't be hard to adjust to at all. Not every team over in Europe or England, for that matter, has these enormous budgets. Working at clubs like Blackburn as a player, but then at Tottenham, I know it's a big club, but they work under a strict budget at Tottenham. You learn to work under whatever restrictions or not there may or may not be. The last two and a half years, I've been engulfed in the U.S. system the whole time. I understand the salary cap, I understand the TAM [Targeted Allocation Money] arrangements, I understand the DP [Designated Player] process, I understand how certain clubs operate under those budgets and certain clubs want to operate over those budgets. That's irrelevant to us. Whatever budget is given to us, we will work with. I think what's really important is the mentality of the players. Fans and players are usually the two most important things at every single club. Us as a staff, we're employed to try to make those players better. So, whatever players are in front of us, that's going to be our focus – on getting a team environment, a winning environment, and an environment where every player wants to work hard. It doesn't really matter where your budgets are.”
On his journey from being a player in England to accepting the Revolution's head coach position:
Head Coach Brad Friedel: “The last four years of my playing career, I was also coaching at Tottenham's academy. I went through my UEFA B, then my UEFA A license, and then concluded with my UEFA Pro license there, all going up into coaching with the professional players during my last season there. The transition when you first start off and you're a player, you have a completely different mentality of how the world works and how soccer works in general. It was very important for myself to know that's exactly what I wanted to do. I didn't want to jump straight into a head coaching job the day after I stopped playing. A lot of my friends and colleagues have done that. Some of the world's greatest players have done that and they've found it really, really difficult. I did it little bit different. I had some mentors over in England. [Tottenham Manager] Mauricio Pochettino being one of them, [Former Tottenham Head of Coaching and Development] John McDermott being another, and [Former Blackburn Rovers Manager] Graham Souness being another. I had a lot of conversations with them about what I was really getting myself into and I fell in love with it. Soccer is in my blood. It always has been. From that point on, I've done everything in my power to try to learn to the point of where I was ready to become a head coach. I took on the head coaching role of the [United States] Under-19 National Team partly because I wanted to take a head coaching role and the other part so I could learn the landscape of soccer in the United States, which as [Boston Globe Correspondent] Frank [Dell'Apa] pointed out, is completely different than the landscape of soccer in the Premier League. Neither is better or worse – they're both just in different parts of their history so to speak. I tried to do as much homework as possible. The great thing about soccer is you learn every single day. I'm going to learn things when I'm 60 as well. I think any head coach and any player that's in the game will tell you that they've continuously learned every single step of the way – and that goes from Sir Alex Ferguson until the day he retired. I played until I was 44 and I can tell you I was still learning then. I believe I've prepared myself in the best possible way. When Mike [Burns] gave me a call – it's unfortunate when anybody every loses their job – when he called [after] Jay Heaps was relieved and he asked me if I wanted to come in and interview for the job, I said yes, because I know that there's a trust factor between Mike and myself. It's a working relationship, absolutely. Everyone knows Mike and how dry he is, so if we don't do our job, you know what's going to happen to us and he'll have no problem doing that. Again, the whole staff that I've brought in here, we're committed to excellence and hard work and trying to get this team to win games.”
On becoming a head coach at the professional level for the first time:
Head Coach Brad Friedel: "I am excited. I wouldn't have taken it if I didn't think that I and my entire staff were ready for it. I wish that preseason started tomorrow, to be honest. We have some time now, we have some time. The good of that is, we have time to prepare the squad on how we want to do it. The bad news is we have to wait to get on the training ground. I think the best thing about coaching is when you're on the training ground, all the things off of it are the laborious details that go into it. Excitement is probably the best word to say."
On the current Revolution roster:
Head Coach Brad Friedel: "I think there's a lot of potential within the group. We're not going to go into details at the first press conference obviously with the squad itself. We have a lot of meetings ahead with that, but there's a lot of potential in the group. I think with most teams and MLS in general, if you get everyone working together and focused to do what you want to do and you get a good team comradery in the changing room, that you can get a lot of results. This is not a team that is in disarray, that's for sure. I think there needs to be little tweaks to it, and then my staff and I need to go in and try to mold the team and get the confidence back. I think if you see – you can look at stats, stats don't lie – over 60 goals conceded is too much and that's something we'll need to address. But, we know what we need to address and we'll work hard to address those issues."
On his relationship with Mike Burns and how that played into his hiring:
Head Coach Brad Friedel: "The only factor that had is Mike is very honest and trustworthy. When you're going into jobs, and I know this, he would not hire me because we were friends, he would hire me because he felt that I could do a job. You also have to understand that I had to interview with this gentleman [Brian Bilello] on my left, and I also had to interview with Robert and Jonathan Kraft, and believe me, they would not just be hiring someone as a friend. He knows that I have those values as well as does all the staff that I have brought in. I think that's where it begins and ends on relationship."
On the coaching search process:
General Manager Michael Burns: "The last time we did this was six years ago and I was overwhelmed in a good way, in a very positive way, with I thought it was a much deeper, more qualified, quality group of candidates that I interviewed – at least out of the process this time than six years ago. I think it speaks volumes for our league, I think it speaks volumes for our club. There were many, many more international candidates with – I'd call them real résumés – that showed interest in the position. Brad was one of my first calls, and he said it – not as a friend. I've played with Brad, I followed Brad's career, I knew he wants to be a coach and has been a coach and towards the end of his career he was playing and coaching, UEFA Pro License, Under-19 National Team, but Brad Friedel is not the only ex-national team mate of mine that I interviewed for the position. There's been some criticism out there that I've hired a friend, I want to address this head on. He, in my opinion, is the best person for the job, bar none and of anyone I've spoken with. I spoke with probably close to two dozen candidates. I spearheaded that, then Brian and I then met with probably six to eight, the two of us, and then Robert and Jonathan spoke with fewer than six to eight, and Brad was on that shortlist. I'm excited to work with Brad, I'm excited to work with this staff, I feel like it's a new beginning for us. But Brad, for me, is the best person for the job. He's the right guy for the job, on the field, off the field. And I know these are just words right now and our actions and our results and all of that will end up dictating everything, but I feel extremely fortunate that Brad is on board."
President Brian Bilello: "I'll just add to that. We had Michael go through that longer process of talking with, and sometimes meeting with, a large list of candidates to really narrow that down to the ones that we thought were the best fits for the organization. Obviously, Brad made it through that list and then myself and the Krafts talked to a number of people as well. With our club, we're a family business, we're a family owned and operated business, so it's important that both from a technical aspect and the real on-the-field piece of the role that Michael is comfortable with Brad and his staff, but also from an overall look at the club and a match for our values and for the Krafts and what they want to see out of the club, it's important that all the candidates meet with all of us. And frankly, Brad was at the top of the list for Michael, the top of the list for me, and the top of the list for Robert and Jonathan. In the end, that made it a very easy decision for the club."
On what he envisions for the club's playing style and identity:
Head Coach Brad Friedel: "Actually, not wanting to concede goals has nothing to do with me being a goalkeeper, I can assure you, that has to do with winning games. I'm not going to get into tactics today, this is not the time. However, what you will see is a committed team, a committed team that has very good physical capabilities, and a committed team that will hopefully play entertaining soccer as well. Again, I told you we're out there to try to get a winning mentality inside the club and the X's and O's side of it, as games come, I'll be more than happy to share with you. That's not for the first press conference. But you'll be seeing, hopefully, a very good, team-oriented, hardworking team on the field with some flair. I'm not – just because I'm a goalkeeper, doesn't mean I don't want to see technically gifted players. My staff knows this and hopefully we'll be able to put that in front of the fans."