FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Mired at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and conceding goals at an alarming rate, the New England Revolution fired head coach Brad Friedel 12 games into his second season on Thursday.
At the club’s next media availability on Friday, forward Teal Bunbury said the Eastern Conference basement dwellers now have a chance to reset their 2019 campaign.
“I mean, I think we have to kind of take it that way,” Bunbury said. “It's unfortunate whenever something like this happens. It's not only on the coach, but I think it's on us as players. We have to go out there and change what we've been doing – we need to get wins.”
New England (2-8-2) have earned eight points from their first 12 games and allowed 18 goals across the last four matches.
Scott Caldwell said that every player in the squad knows the team’s performance hasn't been good enough. The midfielder said Friedel “tried to put us in the best possible position to succeed,” but the Revs have been “inconsistent” in terms of effort.
“No one's happy with what's happened in the last few weeks and (Thursday),” Caldwell said. “We need to raise the morale and make sure guys are able to perform to the best of their abilities.”
Interim head coach Mike Lapper said Friedel’s dismissal, from a personal perspective, is disappointing because they have known each for more than 30 years, dating back to when both played collegiately at UCLA. Lapper said he doesn't think the players lost confidence in Friedel.
“We knew that something had to change, and you can't change everybody in the locker room,” said Lapper, adding that he spoke at length with Friedel the last two days.
Juan Agudelo said he was “shocked” not by Friedel’s firing, but the timing of it ahead of Saturday’s home match with San Jose Earthquakes (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in the US and DAZN in Canada). The forward added that he believes Friedel was “misunderstood” in some ways.
“He’s very confident and believes his ideas a lot,” Agudelo said. “Maybe the way he came across [with] some things, people didn’t understand how much he believed in himself.”
Lapper said anytime there is a coaching change there's an "exhale” from the players because there's a clean slate for the season’s remaining 22 matches.
“My hope is that the players use this as a catapult to just move forward and get the results and get the wins and get this club where we really need to be and should be,” Lapper said.