New England Revolution could turn to veteran Claude Dielna as next captain

2018 preseason - Claude Dielna - New England Revolution

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When Claude Dielna enters the New England Revolution locker room, six-year veteran Andrew Farrell is reminded of a certain midseason signing from 2014.   

“Claude has a presence about him, kinda similar to what Jermaine [Jones] had,” Farrell said. “Claude walks into the locker room, and everyone respects him. If you’re one of the best players and you do the right things, everyone follows that lead.”

Farrell’s reference, of course, is to when the Revs inked Jones in August 2014 following that summer’s World Cup, propelling the side to a MLS Cup berth against the LA Galaxy. Since Jones’ departure in 2016 for the Colorado Rapids, the Revs have tried to replace that leadership void, with ex-head coach Jay Heaps often rotating who wore the captain’s armband. 

Early signs, however, point to Dielna possibly fulfilling the leadership role for a side that finished with a 1-13-3 road record and allowed an Eastern Conference-high 61 goals in 2017.

Dielna has worn the captain’s armband in two of the Revs’ preseason friendlies, though head coach Brad Friedel wouldn’t confirm if the 30-year-old Frenchman will keep that role come New England’s league opener on March 3 at the Philadelphia Union (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE).

“He’s not afraid to voice his opinion with the players and with the staff in positive manners,” Friedel said. “We’ve really liked his work rate in training and he’s good on the ball. He has a lot of qualities we want from a defender on the team.”

Friedel said leadership roles are also bestowed upon club veterans Chris Tierney, Scott Caldwell and Teal Bunbury, but all signs point to an increased role for Dielna.

Upon being signed in last summer’s transfer window to a Designated Player contract, the left-footed center back started 11 games.

Prior to New England, Dielna enjoyed a 10-year European career and said he was often captain. If that role comes his way in New England, Dielna remarked that he’d welcome it with open arms.

“It’s an honor for me to have this responsibility,” Dielna said. “I’m a player who’s very professional and I will be very happy to help the team this season and give back to the club in a good way and return us to the playoffs.”

Dielna, who said his contract doesn’t carry extra pressure, added that he views himself as a leader, armband or not.

“To be captain, it’s not only the armband,” Dielna said. “It’s a mentality, it’s about a mindset. That’s why with this, if the coach gives me the opportunity, I’ll embrace it. But without it, I’ll still work hard and help the team like I did in the past.”

In all likelihood, Dielna will partner in defense with Antonio Delamea, a Slovenian center back who just received his green card and will no longer take up an international spot for the Revs. Despite their varied backgrounds, Dielna said he communicates with Delamea solely in English, and works each week to improve his grasp of the language. 

“This year, I hope we see a big partnership and a big showing,” Dielna said. “What I can say is we need to work all together, whether it’s Toni or Jalil [Anibaba] or someone else. Any player who plays, they need to give 150 percent for the team, no matter what.”