Bruce Arena addresses New England's roster plans after Adam Buksa transfer

For the first time since December 2019, thanks to Adam Buksa’s reported $10 million transfer to Ligue 1’s RC Lens earlier this week, the New England Revolution have an open Designated Player spot.

Naturally, inquiring minds wonder what the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners have up their sleeve for the MLS Secondary Transfer Window, which runs from July 7 through Aug. 4.

Head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena didn’t get into too many specifics when discussing the outgoing move Friday afternoon, but they’re planning to be active.

“We will use the next transfer window to hopefully supplement our roster,” Arena said before Sunday’s visit to Sporting Kansas City (3 pm ET | ABC, ESPN Deportes). “There's a few positions we think we can strengthen. I'm not sure which one or a couple we’ll decide to fill, but we're actively looking at potential transfer moves for the July window."

Internal options, DP interest

New England’s No. 9 options aren’t exactly barren now that Buksa, likely a World Cup-bound player with Poland, has departed two-and-a-half years after joining from his home country’s top flight. Arena is eager for Gustavo Bou, one of two remaining DPs alongside reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP and No. 10 Carles Gil, to reintegrate after an injury has limited him to just four league games this year. Bou had 15g/9a a year ago, and Arena billed him as “arguably our best goalscorer” in Friday’s media availability.

They’re also expecting former US men’s national team forward Jozy Altidore to be approaching full fitness after acquiring him in free agency this past February. Altidore, who departed Toronto FC via an offseason buyout, has one goal in just over 300 minutes (10 appearances) this year. Both Altidore and Bou are 32 years old, bringing a veteran presence as opposed to the 25-year-old Buksa.

Perhaps a DP striker joins the mix, a formula that proved remarkably effective a year ago.

“It also gives us the flexibility now to bring in another Designated Player, whether it’s this year or next, and improve our roster,” Arena said in a 98.5 The Sports Hub interview. “The money will be spent wisely.”

Arena doesn’t seem married to bringing in a No. 9, referencing other areas of need for a team that’s currently outside the Eastern Conference’s Audi MLS Cup Playoffs picture looking in. They’re in 11th place with a 4W-5L-4D record.

“It might be one player, could possibly be two,” Arena said on 98.5. “As you called minutes ago, I was looking at a player on tape that we’ve been talking to. We’re not certain yet, but we’re optimistic we’ll bring in another player that’s going to help us. We have a few positions we’d like to get a little better at. We’re looking and we obviously have some flexibility in terms of the money.”

Buksa departs as New England’s top scorer from the 2021 campaign and this year, netting 23 goals and six assists in 41 regular-season matches across the span. He was aerially dominant and progressed considerably, drawing interest from Europe that New England were keen to capitalize on this summer.

Growing trend

Buksa is the Revs’ third key departure in the last two transfer windows, joining USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner (to England’s Arsenal) and Canadian men’s national team winger Tajon Buchanan (to Belgium’s Club Brugge). That’s a significant talent exodus, one that nets them a reported $24 million collectively with the potential for more depending on incentives and sell-on percentages.

But New England have also replaced them, with Serbian goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic (from Čukarički) and Colombia winger Dylan Borrero (U22 Initiative deal from Brazil’s Atletico Mineiro) coming to Foxborough. It’s all part of a development and succession plan that the Revolution and MLS further enter on the global transfer market, and now comes reinvestment and enhancements after Buksa’s sale.

“When those opportunities exist and it makes sense for both the club and the player we’ll do it,” Arena said, “but we have and will continue to reinvest those resources into the club in a variety of ways.”