FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When the New England Revolution officially introduced Bruce Arena as head coach and sporting director on May 16, the five-time MLS Cup winner said he wanted to bring a championship mindset to the team.
One month into the Arena era, the Revolution look far removed from the side that posted back-to-back losses by a combined 10 goals just before the dismissal of coach Brad Friedel. On the heels of two impressive performances in the league and U.S. Open Cup, New England have not morphed into an MLS Cup contender quite yet, but a winning mentality has returned to the team.
Prior to the Gold Cup break, the Revolution clipped the LA Galaxy 2-1 in Arena’s sideline debut on June 2. A wild, dramatic 3-2 away win over New York Red Bulls in the fourth round of the Open Cup followed on Tuesday, which saw the Revs score an opening-minute goal, pick up a late red card and get a spectacular brace by Teal Bunbury to seal it.
Those results did not seem possible one month ago.
“It seems like we've come together during this tough time,” Bunbury said. “I've been in this league for a long time, and special teams end up doing that as they find a way to just regroup and kind of reassess the situation and are able get on with it.”
Arena said of the players: “Well, they’ve had a great attitude. They’re responding quite well, I think, and obviously their effort in these two games has been outstanding and the results have as well.”
Arena conceded that he and assistant coach Richie Williams and technical director Curt Onalfo are “getting to know [the players] a lot better, they’re getting to know us and we can formulate some additional ideas as we move forward.”
Defender Andrew Farrell said one difference between Friedel and Arena is personal accountability, especially on match days. Farrell said the players “are a little bit more laid-back” under Arena and do not report to Gillette Stadium four hours prior to home matches as they did with Friedel. Players can also dress how they want, and eat on their own ahead of games.
Arena is “very structured, and likes a lot of things his way,” but confines it to between the lines during a match or during training, according to Farrell.
The Revs will look to continue their recent strong form on Wednesday night, as they face Orlando City SC in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 (7:30 pm ET | ESPN+).