PHILADELPHIA – The on- and off-field leaders of the New England Revolution insist their relatively quiet offseason will soon change.
Club president Brian Bilello told MLSsoccer.com at Friday’s SuperDraft that New England have signed an “attacking player” who’s due to arrive this weekend and should be announced pending a medical and receipt of his visa.
Prompted by Bilello’s comment, GM Mike Burns and coach Brad Friedel confirmed that a new attacking piece will soon call Gillette Stadium home.
“As far as a name, you’ll have to wait for the hierarchy to name that,” Friedel said. “He’s a player that the fans and the players will be very happy to see involved in the team.”
Three months removed from back-to-back seasons without playoff games, the Revs have signed three new players, all in their mid 20s or younger. Syrian-Swedish left back Gabriel Somi is 26; French holding midfielder Wilfried Zahibo is 24; and midfielder and Homegrown Player signing Isaac Angking is 17.
That’s all part of a conscious effort to get younger, Friedel said. The Revs started the 2017 campaign with an average age of 27.07, the third-oldest in MLS. Friedel hopes to buck that trend with the help of a full-time scout Remi Roy, the Revs’ former goalkeeper coach.
“When we go to purchase these players – and I can never say never – I’m not really looking for the over the hill, 30-plus player,” Friedel said. “If we’re going to spend money on a Designated Player, he’s going to be young, in his prime and hungry. If we can’t get it over the line for the player, we’ll move onto the next one.”
Burns echoed Friedel's philosophy, and added that the roster building could continue up until -- or even after -- opening weekend in early March.
“We’re going to continue to go until we feel like we’re closer to the 28,” Burns said. “And I say this every year, but we don’t want to sign guys just to sign guys. We sign guys we feel like are going to have an impact and will be beneficial to us. We’re getting there. We’ve made some progress this offseason, but we’re not done.”
A combination of the addition of $4 million in Targeted Allocation Money for 2018 and the departures of players with big contracts (Benjamin Angoua, Xavier Kouassi, Kei Kamara) means the Revs copious resources to work with.
“We’re in a different bucket now in terms of the players we can attract and bring in, especially on the international market,” Burns said. “A few years ago, we weren’t able to do that.”
The whole dynamic has Friedel excited for what’s in store in New England.
“The other thing that’s important for the fans to know is the Krafts have been very good to myself and my staff,” Friedel said. “A lot of news will be coming out in the upcoming months, and I hope a big part of that is where we have three points. It’s most important we get a team together on the field.”