FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There is, perhaps, no one more excited for the impending start of the 2018 MLS regular season than New England Revolution newcomer Gabriel Somi.
“I’m tired of this preseason,” Somi said with a laugh on Tuesday morning as the Revs got back to work in Foxborough following extended stays in Florida and Arizona. “I just want to play games now.”
As repetitive and grueling as the preseason grind can be for players, it was a critical period for Somi, who arrived in Revs camp one month ago with plenty to learn about the league, his teammates, his coaches, and even the country he now calls home.
Having spent the first nine years of his professional career in his native Sweden, Somi required a significant adjustment period, but he found the hospitable nature of the Revolution locker room made the transition to life in the U.S. as smooth as possible.
“It’s been great; the group has welcomed me since day one,” Somi said. “It’s been an intense period, but we’re starting to lighten the training right now. It’s been a great month so far.”
Upon arrival, Somi spoke of his desire to embark upon “a huge adventure” in MLS, but also said he was intrigued by Brad Friedel’s plan for the Revs, particularly a high-energy, front-foot approach that requires the outside backs to be heavily involved in the attack.
An attack-minded left back, Somi feels the style suits him perfectly, though he’s admitted that it’s been a learning process for every player as they try to nail down a new system.
“It’s obviously a lot of new things to learn about the players and the style, but I’m getting into it more and more,” Somi said. “It feels good so far. We practice a lot with the high pressure, and to press like a unit, and it’s been better and better each game.
“Everything is brand new for most of the guys, so we keep learning day by day.”
As that learning process continues into the season – beginning with Saturday night’s opener against the Philadelphia Union – so, too, will Somi’s budding relationship with fellow newcomer Cristian Penilla.
Penilla has featured primarily on the left wing, where there’s frequent overlapping and interchanging with Somi on the left side of defense. While Somi admits that the language barrier presents a challenge at times, he’s confident that the duo’s bond will continue to evolve in the coming weeks and months.
“We keep learning each other, and try to get some other players to translate,” said Somi. “It gets better day by day.”