FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Bruce Arena entered his first offseason as the New England Revolution’s sporting director and head coach with a clear vision of how and where the Revs needed to strengthen their roster ahead of the 2020 campaign.
One of the primary needs he identified – a left back – was secured on Friday morning with the announcement that experienced Dutch defender Alexander Büttner will join the Revs after spending 12 professional seasons in the Netherlands, England, Russia, and Belgium.
Edgar Castillo started 20 games at left back in 2019, but when a rib injury sidelined him for the season’s stretch run and the Revs’ playoff meeting with Atlanta, Arena was forced to improvise. Jalil Anibaba and DeJuan Jones – both right-footed and neither natural outside backs – filled the void admirably, but at the same time highlighted the need for stability at the position.
Büttner provides it.
“In Alexander Büttner we have an experienced left back, and a left-footed player,” Arena said. “He’s a very good passer of the ball, which will allow us to have more balance.”
Arena highlighted the Revolution’s lack of left-footed players last season – with the notable exception of MLS Newcomer of the Year Carles Gil – and said it was a priority to get another lefty into the mix to offer a bit of variety in the attack.
“Our attack was not balanced last year with the limitations of not having a left-footed player in our lineup, with the exception of Carles,” Arena said. “That gives us a little bit of balance. He should be a good, experienced defender in this league, and he should help us in the attack, as well.”
Arena often praised the Revolution’s locker room culture this past season and credited the players with making Gustavo Bou’s transition into the squad seamless. Büttner comes from a European background rather than South American, but Arena said “there’s no reason to believe he won’t fit in comfortably.”
That’s partly because, Arena said, New England and the Netherlands share a few similarities, and mostly because the 30-year-old Büttner will arrive in Foxborough ready to tackle the challenge ahead.
“He was certainly very much interested in coming to the league and he likes New England, so I think it’ll be a comfortable fit for him,” Arena said. “I think New England duplicates Holland in some ways in terms of geography and weather and all that stuff. I think he’ll adjust pretty quickly here.”
That adjustment will begin in January when the Revs report to preseason camp for 2020.