Mike Burns - Talking - Podium

Revolution GM Burns takes wait-and-see approach to building 2017 roster

New England Revolution general manager Mike Burns is in no hurry to fill the six open spots on his club's 28-man roster.

Given the players already already at his disposal two weeks before the Revs' opener at the Colorado Rapids on March 4 (6 pm ET, MLS LIVE), he believes waiting may be the wiser approach.

Much of the core from last season is returning, and there are a few new faces in center backs Benjamin Angoua and Antonio Delamea and striker Brian Wright.

Burns expects to get his squad to grow eventually, and said that several more draft picks or trialists could join by the end of the preseason, but also explained that the roster's calculus is far broader than that.

“You have to look beyond the current window you’re in,” Burns told MLSsoccer.com via telephone on Thursday. “The first three or four months of the season may dictate where we think we want to add or where we think we might be deficient in a certain area on the field. You also have to keep in the back of your mind – even though you don’t hope it happens – that injuries play a factor.”

While big-name signings aren’t imminent, Burns thinks New England boast depth, balance and versatility at each position. With that, he says, come opportunities to assemble pieces as the Revs deem fit throughout 2017.

“One thing that we’ve intentionally done is we’ve kept roster spots and we have the budget space to go out and look to add players, which we feel is advantageous to us,” Burns said. “Whether it’s in this window, whether it’s in the summer window, we frankly like having that flexibility because you never know how the season will go. It’s a long year.”

As 2017 unfolds, Burns said the underlying motivation will be missing out of last year’s postseason. He believes the roster wasn’t in need of a reboot, but rather motivation over what could have been.

“We let a lot of games slip away last year that we felt like we were in control of or should have gotten more out of,” Burns said. “That hopefully will serve as extra motivation, because we feel like we’re a good enough and a deep enough team where we should have qualified for the playoffs.”

One boost for New England could be Xavier Kouassi, a central midfielder and Designated Player, who is nearing full health after tearing his ACL a year ago.

Burns said Kouassi’s game fitness is still a ways away, but that he’ll eventually feature as a No. 6 and No. 8, depending on which formation coach Jay Heaps chooses.

“We’re hopeful that he’s on the road to a full recovery and can have a big impact on this team this year,” Burns said. “Maybe it’s not in March, but certainly our hope that at some point as the season progresses that he’s going to be the player we think and know he can be.”

Two more vital cogs will be midfielder Lee Nguyen and striker Kei Kamara.

In 2014, Nguyen was an MLS MVP candidate who posted 18 goals and five assists before morphing into more of a provider the last two seasons.

Kamara, he scored 22 goals with Columbus 2015 and had five in nine games when the Crew traded him to New England last season. He couldn’t quite match that production in Foxboro, scoring seven goals in 21 appearances for the Revolution to finish with 12 overall.

Burns said if either can come anywhere close to their best past seasons, New England will be in good shape.

“To say that the expectations for both of those guys is to get back to a career year is off,” Burns said. “Even if they get close, they’re both talented and good enough that they have the ability to create and to score themselves and to carry this team offensively. … We feel like we have good enough players that can create and score a lot of goals. It just didn’t happen as frequently as we would have hoped last year.”

All things considered, don’t expect major changes from the Revs. Rather, Burns expects the core to take another step, for Kouassi to shine and for Angoua and Delamea to slot into the back line.

“I don’t want to put a timeline or a timeframe on additions because we want to reassess, as we do all the time, with where our current roster is at,” Burns said. “Right now we feel good about what we have.”