FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution have added nine new players this season, including 29-year-old defender Jalil Anibaba, who has made quite the impression throughout his first few months in Foxborough.
Anibaba joined New England as a preseason trialist, and with a combination of talent and experience, the eight-year MLS veteran has shown why he ultimately earned a spot on the roster. Anibaba has featured in each of the first three games of the season, starting the past two in central defense.
“Jalil’s great,” said goalkeeper Matt Turner. “He brings a lot of veteran experience to our team, and he knows what it takes to win MLS games, so he’s somebody that I definitely draw a lot off of. He teaches me and helps me every day with things that I can do to make his life a little bit easier, so he’s been a great addition for us.”
Turner is not the only teammate to have lauded Anibaba’s wealth of knowledge as a seasoned player. Previous stints with the Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City and most recently the Houston Dynamo have instilled in Anibaba leadership qualities that he’s brought to the Revolution both on and off the field.
“He’s a great player,” said Andrew Farrell who plays alongside Anibaba on the backline. “From the first day he came in the locker room, he’s (been) a vocal leader. All the guys enjoy his presence in there. He’s a great player and he’s been in the league for a long, long time, so he has a lot of experience.”
With the many new changes that this year has brought to New England, Anibaba came to the Revs at an opportune time. As head coach Brad Friedel implements new systems and philosophies, Anibaba has fit right into the mix.
“What I’ve noticed is that everybody’s buying into what we’re trying to do,” said Anibaba. “That’s always important whenever you have a new coaching staff, (and) whenever you have a decent amount of new players like myself.”
While Anibaba has found his place in New England, Saturday’s match against Houston breeds a sense of familiarity as he returns to BBVA Compass Stadium, where he made 42 appearances for the Dynamo in the past two years. While he looks forward to visiting the Space City, Anibaba is focusing on the mission that the Revs’ are there to accomplish.
“For me, it’s business as usual, first and foremost,” said Anibaba. “We’re concentrating on getting three points. We’re working hard on trying to exploit what they don’t do so well, and being cognizant of what they do well. But in terms of going back to Houston, the city and seeing old faces, that’s always good.”