FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The benefits of Tuesday night’s dramatic victory over the New York Red Bulls are twofold for the New England Revolution.
Most importantly it’s a victory that pushes the Revs one step closer to a trophy, as they’ll continue their quest for a second Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title against Orlando City SC in the Round of 16 next Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET, streaming live on ESPN+).
But on a more basic level, another game means another opportunity for new sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena to continue evaluating his roster, as he’s been on the job just one month and has only been on the sidelines for two matches – the Open Cup win at New York, and a regular-season win in LA.
“I don’t know these players well enough at this point,” Arena said on Friday morning. “You learn a little bit every day. We’ve had the opportunity to see a number of players. I think from the LA game to the game against Red Bulls, I think we made three changes, and four changes during the game.
“We’ve gotten to see a number of players play, so we’re getting to know them a lot better, they’re getting to know us, and we can formulate some additional ideas as we move forward.”
Eighteen different players have seen the field through Arena’s first two games, and that number could increase next Wednesday night in Orlando. That’s all part of the evaluation process for Arena and his staff, which needs to determine how it wants to move forward shaping a roster and a style of play.
It’s a similar situation for the players, and every minute on the field is a vital opportunity for professionals who are learning an entirely new approach.
“[We’re] just getting used to the things he wants,” said Andrew Farrell, who has played all 210 minutes under Arena at center back. “Each day we’re learning something new, and he’s giving us more and more to digest. You see it each and every game.”
Learning hasn’t meant the Revs have had to sacrifice results, though. They’ve won their first two games under Arena – both on the road – moving their record to an unbeaten 3-0-2 since parting ways with previous head coach Brad Friedel in early May.
That, according to Arena, has everything to do with the players’ attitudes, and their willingness to take on new information and work to implement new concepts on the field.
“They’ve had a great attitude,” he said. “They’re responding quite well, I think. Obviously their efforts in these games have been outstanding, and the results have, as well. So we’re real pleased with the two weeks we’ve had with the team.”