FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Back in late November as the New England Revolution were still in the midst of their march to the 2020 Eastern Conference Final, sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena was already busy planning for the 2021 campaign, having identified areas of need to be addressed in the offseason.
One position Arena thought could use a boost was on the wings, particularly the left side, and the technical staff set out to find a suitable player. They identified several options: a couple based in Spain, and another plying his trade in Sweden, an Icelandic winger by the name of Arnór Traustason.
Unable to watch the players in person because of travel restrictions in place for COVID-19, Arena and his staff pored over video and spoke with trusted sources to make an informed decision on the best option. At the end of their assessment, one player emerged as a clear frontrunner.
“In my opinion, Arnór was by far the best choice out of all of them,” Arena said.
Traustason was still under contract with Malmö FF so there was, of course, negotiating to be done. Eventually the player confirmed his interest, a transfer fee was agreed upon, and a multi-year contract was signed as Traustason’s move to New England became official on Tuesday morning.
“Malmö wasn’t willing to let the player go until they were able to bring in some new players in their roster, and then in late February they were able to do that, so that made it a lot easier for us to finalize the deal,” Arena said. “Also, in Sweden, their calendar is basically the same as ours. Their season starts about the same time as we do, so the timing was right to work out the transfer to get him here.
“All the things fell together kind of late, but the time is still good for an MLS club to bring in a player at this point in time, so it worked out well. We obviously had conversations with him along the way, conversations with the agents. These things take time, and we’re fortunate that everything fell into place.”
It’ll still be a bit more time before Traustason is able to join his new squad, as the 27-year-old winger has been called up to represent Iceland in a trio of 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers later this month, featuring matches against Germany, Armenia, and Liechtenstein as he aims to add to his 37 caps. He’ll also need to acquire his P-1 Visa before traveling to the U.S., but the hope is he’ll have that in the near future.
When he does arrive, Traustason will add yet another dimension to New England’s attack as a right-footed player who specializes in cutting inside from the left, with an ability to both create and score. He’ll need time to fully integrate into the squad, but Arena is confident that Traustason will be “a good fit” in New England.
“We believe they can complement each other,” Arena said of the Revs’ attacking group. “Obviously Gustavo [Bou], Adam [Buksa], and Carles [Gil] have played some games together last year, especially at the end of the year. We’ll have new additions. We also have Teal Bunbury in that group, with Arnór and Tajon Buchanan, who we’re missing for some weeks now because of the [Concacaf Olympic Qualifying] U-23 competition, so it’s going to take a little time.
“We have to get through some important preseason games and obviously the regular season is going to be an important way for us to analyze if we’re doing the right things with those players, and they’re complementing each other in the right way.”