In early March, the New England Revolution were booming with confidence.
The 2021 Supporters’ Shield winners had logged their first league victory of the new campaign and flew past Liga MX’s Pumas UNAM in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals, 3-0, at home. The general mood in Foxborough, naturally, was upbeat.
But frustration and disappointment have mired the ensuing month, with Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Inter Miami CF marking their fifth straight defeat across all competitions. A hat trick from Leonardo Campana was their undoing this time, but head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena acknowledged cascading issues have defined this rut.
“We're not getting very good play out of a number of players,” said Arena. “I think our attack has been stifled with not having a combination of [Gustavo] Bou and [Adam] Buksa with [Carles] Gil. I think our goalkeeping can be better, and we've had a very difficult time in the center back position with the injuries to [Henry] Kessler and that injury to [Andrew] Farrell that changed things around as we went into the week of Champions League and the game in Charlotte.
"So we've had a couple of people that have been called on [and] haven't been able to get the job done, in all honesty.”
As Arena rolled through, DP forwards Bou and Buksa – who combined for 31 goals and 13 assists during 2021’s record-setting regular season – are yet to score this year, respectively missing the match at DRV PNK Stadium to injury and a red-card suspension.
US men’s national team goalkeeper Matt Turner remains out with a foot injury, and backups Brad Knighton and Earl Edwards Jr. have both made result-defining errors. Gil, the reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP, has 3g/1a himself, though the DP playmaker’s efforts only go so far. The offseason transfer of Canadian international winger Tajon Buchanan also frames the conversation, his game-breaking ability sorely missed.
When each roster-focused layer is combined, it leads to three one-goal defeats during this stretch, home to Real Salt Lake and New York Red Bulls before Week 6’s setback at Miami. And it’s also produced the first four-game losing streak of Arena’s illustrious MLS coaching career, which began in 1996 with D.C. United and in Week 2 put him as the league’s all-time winningest coach.
As individual mistakes compound, key absences take a toll and depth is tested, veteran midfielder Sebastian Lletget said an honest conversation is needed.
“It's going to come down to us taking initiative, us taking the reigns a little bit between the group,” said Lletget, who was acquired during the offseason in a trade with the LA Galaxy as Arena turned to his guys, including striker Jozy Altidore and center back Omar Gonzalez (both previously at Toronto FC).
“Everybody's got to look themselves in the mirror and see what they could be doing better because we scored twice when we're away and you should walk away with something, I'm sorry," he said. "Definitely in my experience, you score two goals when you're away from home, you're walking away with a point or you're winning the game. And I think we're too spread apart.”
New England’s next chance to rebound comes next Saturday when hosting expansion side Charlotte FC (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+), having lost to the newcomers 3-1 earlier this season. The MLS original club sits narrowly above the overall table’s bottom spot, a shocking regression given the heights achieved a year ago.
“Now we go back home,” Lletget said, “we go back to the drawing board and we really see what's going wrong here because we have so much ability, too much talent on this team for this to be happening. I really feel that.”