FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It has been evident since the moment the players first stepped into the freshly-built New England Revolution Training Center that there is something different in the air this preseason.
Yes, the Revolution did open a state-of-the-art training facility with top-notch resources. Yes, there are seven new faces in the locker room. Yes, it’s the start of a new campaign, and the first full year under sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena’s leadership.
However, it’s so much more.
There has been a contagious energy amongst this group in the first week, and even the newcomers felt it as soon as they stepped foot in Foxborough.
“The vibe has been unbelievable,” said Seth Sinovic. “Everybody’s excited to come in every day, everybody’s excited to get to work, and I think that speaks to where the club is right now, not only from the facility, but as a team. I think everybody’s feeling confident going into the year.”
That confidence has immediately translated onto the field, and it's feeding into the hunger that this group has to succeed. With 26 players on the roster to start preseason there is healthy competition within the group. It's not only pushing each athlete, but it's also allowing the players to push each other to improve each and every day.
“Having a lot of that core back and then adding these guys that we’ve brought in who’ve really meshed in really well, (it's a) really talented group of guys,” said Andrew Farrell. “I think we’re probably two, three deep in each position, and competition is really good. Bruce has set the bar high for what he expects and guys are pushing each other every day.”
Both new and returning players realize that striving to reach that high bar is an important part of the next six weeks leading up to their season opener.
“This is a crucial part of season preparation, so we need to focus on it,” said striker Adam Buksa. “We need to work hard to get used to all the jobs. It’s very important for me, personally, to know the players and to know on the pitch, outside the pitch, so I have to use this time as much as possible.”
“You have to be one group, one team,” added fellow newcomer Alexander Büttner. “Now’s the time to do that. We have time enough to know each other and how everybody plays on the pitch, so that’s really important. To be a group who’s together, that’s the most important thing, and who want to win every game.”
This unified approach starts at the top. Arena has outlined realistic goals and expectations for this squad to help them strive towards success throughout the entirety of the upcoming campaign.
“Bruce, in our meeting, said he didn’t want to talk about anything long-term of what our goals are necessarily,” said Farrell. “He just wants us to be a good team. Whenever he won his championships with LA and other teams, at the beginning of the season he never talked about ‘we want to win this, we want to do that.’ He just said ‘we want to be a good team, we want to win a lot of games, and we’ll see how that goes from there.’ I think if we win a lot of games that’s going to be a good thing, and if you win a lot of games, there’s going to be success with that.
“But now a full preseason and season will be good to see what he can get out of us. He showed how much of a change he can make in a midseason change, and having a whole preseason and season is going to be exciting to be a part of and see how it goes.”
The Revs will carry this optimism heading into the 2020 season. The group will continue to train in Foxborough until February 6, when they will leave on a two-leg west coast trip to train in Los Angeles, California and Portland, Oregon, where they'll play five preseason matches against MLS opposition.