FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A new season begins on Saturday afternoon when the New England Revolution kick off their 2019 campaign against FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium (4:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Boston, 98.5 The Sports Hub), and several fresh faces are poised to play significant roles in the coming year.
Big things are expected of international additions Carles Gil and Juan Fernando Caicedo – both of whom bring firepower to the attack – although Caicedo’s debut may be delayed as he’s questionable for this weekend’s opener with a muscular injury. Left back Edgar Castillo, meanwhile, adds veteran leadership and, hopefully, stability to a position that featured a rotating cast in 2018.
All three featured heavily in preseason, giving the trio plenty of time to settle into their new surroundings, get to know their new teammates, and understand the system they’ll be playing in New England.
“All the new faces, all the new players that are here, already know exactly what we want from them and what to expect,” said Diego Fagundez. “We’re just going to go out there and do what we love to do and make sure that we’re winning games.”
A quartet of rookies is also in the mix for the Revolution: Homegrown signings Justin Rennicks and Nicolas Firmino, as well as SuperDraft selections Tajon Buchanan and DeJuan Jones. All four are primarily attack-minded players, and all had standout moments in preseason.
Rennicks was particularly prominent, notching one goal and three assists while seeing time on both wings and as a forward, while Jones officially earned his roster spot earlier this week after impressing with his pace and work rate throughout the past month.
All four have already made strides in preseason, and that development should only continue as they see more and more minutes at the professional level.
“You’ve got new rookies coming in that are working their tails off, asking a bunch of questions, and I think that’s what you want as a teammate and as a human being,” said Teal Bunbury. “You want someone to come into a job environment and try to learn and try to fit into the group. I think everyone’s done that extremely well.”
Bunbury commended the rookies but had special praise for Gil, who stepped into the Revolution lineup midway through their preseason trip to Spain and immediately showed the qualities that earned him a Designated Player contract following stints in the English Premier League and La Liga.
“One of the biggest things is his composure,” Bunbury said of the 26-year-old Spanish playmaker. “He wants the ball in difficult situations, and not many players that I’ve played with enjoy that. I feel like he thrives off if there’s a couple guys on him, he doesn’t shy away or try to hide behind a player.
“He wants to be on the ball and he wants to create, and I think that’s really going to help our team this year.”