Details of New England Revolution overhaul emerge, many questions remain

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — All signs point to the New England Revolution’s 2019 roster looking vastly different than one that just concluded its first-year coach Brad Friedel. And while details have been sparse, specifics began to emerge following Sunday’s 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact.

For one, Designated Player and outcast center back Claude Dielna said he won’t be returning to New England. Another sidelined defender, left back Gabriel Somi, said he’s on a guaranteed contract for 2019, but plans to talk with his agent about other possibilities after a “frustrating” season.

Those departures would surprise few around Gillette Stadium. However, the potential exit of midfielder Diego Fagundez would raise a few eyebrows. And that may be coming, with his father tweeting before kickoff Sunday that it could be the 23-year-old Homegrown Player's last game with the Revs.

Fagundez gave no indication Sunday that would be the case, but did reveal he has a club option for 2019. He also finished with his most points (eight goals, 10 assists) since the 2013 season, all while making $190,000 in base compensation, according to MLS Players Association data.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Fagundez said. “Right now, we’re happy where we are and it’s not up to me exactly what the decision is. So just looking forward to what’s coming up.”

Another player in flux is forward Juan Agudelo, who’s reportedly out of contract for 2019. Often shuttled out wide under Friedel, he recorded three goals and four assists in only 12 starts. The 25-year-old hasn’t been called into a US national team camp since January 2018.

Pressed several times on his future, Agudelo was noncommittal.

“I’ve been in the league seven or eight years and just got off the field,” Agudelo said. “I know not to answer questions like that after, but we’ll see.”

A similar tone was struck by midfielder Kelyn Rowe, who was part of the 2017 US men's national team Gold Cup roster 15 months ago, but endured an up-and-down season under Friedel. Rowe, who was again thrust into a left back role, wouldn’t comment on where his contract stands.

“It’s out of my hands,” Rowe said. “It’s for (Revs GM) Mike Burns, it’s for my agent, it’s for other clubs to deal with. I’m just here to play games.”

They were largely curt, business-like responses from Revolution players, most from a core that have been apart of three consecutive failures to reach the postseason. Although 2018 started with promise, the bottom fell out post-World Cup break that included a nine-game winless streak. By season’s end, New England also had its worst home record (8-4-5) since the 2013.

That’s left Friedel meeting with players to discuss their future in the coming days. From there, the group of returners will hold postseason practices to further lay the building blocks for 2019.

For whoever’s brought in, mentality seems to again be the optimal word.

“We did a very good job, up to a certain point, of never losing two in a row, and that’s something that we’ll keep preaching to the players,” Friedel said. “When you get tired, how do you react? When you’re taking long trips, how do you react? When the coaching staff, someone on the staff says something to you that you don’t like, how do you react?

“Always with the notion that you have to win a game, no matter how you feel, how you want to act, what your true feelings are,” Friedel continued. “Who are the players that can shut all that off and win? That’s what we’re looking for.”

That all sets the stage for what should be a busy offseason for New England. In Friedel’s first year, 12 new players were brought in through various mechanisms as the club introduced a high-press approach.

Now even more changes seem imminent, with the status of longtime club staples Agudelo, Fagundez and Rowe in flux. And with the imminent departure of Dielna, the Revs are set to have zero Designated Players on the roster.

Whtever happens will all be part of a broader project, Friedel said, even referencing the club’s new $35 million training facility.

“The players that we do take along with us will definitely be committed players,” Friedel said. “With our new training facility and other things going on, we’re looking up and very much looking forward to preseason starting.”