The New England Revolution took a big step forward under Bruce Arena in his first full season with the club in 2020.
Arena, who was named head coach and sporting director during the 2019 campaign, inherited an intriguing roster and has added a number of key pieces since, including Designated Players Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa, to compliment star midfielder Carles Gil. The Spaniard helped guide New England to a surprise run deep in last year's playoffs, and the hope is that the club's trajectory continues pointing upwards in 2021.
The Revs retained much of their 2020 squad, though opened some key flexibility for further signings, which aren't quite done yet as the players officially kicked off preseason on Monday.
“I think we’ll bring in possibly another player before the season starts, then evaluate where we’re at during the season," Arena told media on a virtual press conference Monday. "See if there’s any additions we need to make in the summer transfer window.”
The Revs have already knocked out most of their to-do list this winter, with former Barcelona midfielder Wilfrid Kaptoum headlining the offseason additions. Left back Christian Mafla is expected to be the club's starter at the position, while New England added a handful of other players expected to largely be rotational pieces in a congested 2021 calendar.
Kaptoum draws the most intrigue for the imports, though Arena is hoping to manage expectations.
The 24-year-old is a product of Barcelona's famed academy and made three appearances for the first team while gaining La Liga experience at Real Betis. He joins a central midfield group led by Matt Polster, Luis Caicedo and more.
“Technically, he’s a good player," Arena said. "But like any new player coming into the league, there’ll be an adjustment. We watched him in the first day of training today and he looks to be a good addition, it’ll be interesting to see how he moves along in preseason. He’s a good passer of the ball, we just need to see how he’ll adjust to the game in Major League Soccer.”
As the club sit about six weeks away from the 2021 season kicking off, Arena has nearly his full complement of players in training, though is without a few key ones. Center back Henry Kessler is with the United States U-23 national team as they conduct a pre-Olympic qualifying training camp, while Buksa has yet to travel due to some restrictions. Mafla will join the group soon.
“We’re still waiting for Buksa to get in, there’s some issues with his travel," Arena said. "There needs to be certain documents to get him through. And Mafla travels tomorrow, but everyone else is here.”