Brad Friedel

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Red-hot Revs beat FC Cincy, make it 10 games unbeaten (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): Statistically speaking, no other team even comes close to rivaling the New England Revolution as the hottest team in MLS. With a 2-0 road victory over expansion side FC Cincinnati on Sunday, Bruce Arena’s side hasn’t lost in 10 games (nine of which have been played since he was named head coach) and now sits above the playoff cut line in the Eastern Conference. At present, two points separate them and fourth-place New York City FC. Carles Gil has been a revelation as a new signing last winter, and Arena has gotten so much more out of the rest of the remaining roster than Brad Friedel did during his 15 months in charge. Gil scored what turned out to be the early winner on Sunday, followed by an insurance goal (set up by Gil) from Antonio Delamea early in the second half. It was as routine as a road victory can be in MLS, which is as much of an indictment of Cincinnati as it is a compliment to the Revs.

[ MORE: Pity proves his point as Atlanta tops DCU late (video) ]

Two moments that mattered

9′ — Gil cleans up a mess and makes it 1-0 — Sometimes, if not most of the time, Cincinnati defends exactly how you would expect an expansion team to defend.

55′ — Delamea heads home for 2-0 — Headed goals don’t come much easier, or less contested, than this one.

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Man of the match: Carles Gil

Goalscorers: Gil (9′), Delamea (55′)

MLS Wrap: What We Learned

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It was another busy evening of MLS action on Saturday. There were upsets,

Here’s a look back at what we learned from Week 17

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]


Earthquakes continue hot form in rout of Galaxy

There weren’t any last minute heroics needed on Saturday evening in the first edition of the Cali Classico.

The San Jose Earthquakes routed the LA Galaxy, 3-0, in front of nearly 51,000 fans at Stanford Stadium in a battle of not only Argentine managers but also more strategic Designated Players v. the Galactico method. It was the Earthquakes fourth win in their last six MLS games, with the other two being draws as the Earthquakes are suddenly in playoff contention.

It took the ‘Quakes some time to get used to Matias Almeyda’s methods, but it’s paying dividends. Vako, who scored a brace on Wednesday in a win over the Houston Dynamo, bagged the first of the night against the Galaxy after a planned free kick routine bounced back to him at the top of the box. Vako’s curling effort in the 11th minute proved to be the difference in the match.

In the final ten minutes, Shea Salinas fired a cracking goal that bounced off the far post and in, while Tommy Thompson dribbled past three Galaxy defenders before his shot took a wicked deflection, leaving David Bingham helpless in goal.

Of course, the Earthquakes wouldn’t have won without their goalkeeper. Daniel Vega made a couple of world-class saves, one on a dipping, curling effort from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and another from Fabian Alvarez. The Galaxy controlled the match, especially in the second half, but thanks to last-ditch defending from the Earthquakes and saves by Vega, they didn’t score.

To add insult to injury, Sebastian Lletget, who continues to battle muscle injuries this season, suffered a right thigh injury, per the club, and was subbed off at halftime.


More drama in Atlanta? 

Thanks to recent acquisition Justin Meram, Atlanta United bounced back from a disappointing defeat at Toronto FC to knock off the Montreal Impact, 2-1. However, the game is partially overshadowed by the substitution of Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez.

The most expensive transfer in MLS history has found life difficult playing for a different coach than Martinez probably expected when he agreed to come to the U.S. (Frank De Boer instead of Gerardo “Tata” Martino) and the MLS style is different than what Martinez experienced in Argentina.

On Saturday, Martinez was subbed off in the 68th minute, well before Meram scored the winner and after the Impact had leveled the score in the 50th minute. Martinez had initially set up Meram’s first goal, but according to de Boer, Martinez wasn’t at his best as the game wore on.

“In the beginning,there was nothing wrong,” de Boer said after the match. “I think he played quite well. He was setting up the first goal, cutting inside, playing it to Justin (Meram), moves through to make the space for Justin to come inside, so I have no problem with that. But in the second half, especially around the 60th to 65th minute,he was making too many mistakes and then it’s a danger to the team in that moment. Then it is my choice to make a decision,and overall against Toronto, I think he played one of his best games. It was short notice that he’d play again and maybe he was tired, but he has to make those plays.”

Martinez spurned European offers to come to the U.S., but one may wonder if he’s regretting that now, midway through his first season here. Of course, this could just be a blip as well. Martinez went the full 90 and could have saved a point with a penalty kick in the eighth minute of stoppage time, but he failed to score.


Are the Revolution turning it around? 

Bruce Arena’s first match on the sideline came in a surprise 2-1 win on the road at his former home, the LA Galaxy. Since then, the New England Revolution has only lost once, which came in the U.S. Open Cup, without a full-strength squad.

In MLS play though, the team is unbeaten under Arena, and the Revolution picked up yet another win on Saturday, as Teal Bunbury’s second half stoppage time goal was the winner in a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo.

Everyone seems to be enjoying a new lease on their soccer lives. Carles Gil looks like the dangerous Designated Player he was supposed to be, Justin Rennicks made his first MLS start and Andrew Ferrell looks like a lock-down defender yet again. Arena also went with Matt Turner in goal instead of Cody Cropper, who had been preferred under former coach Brad Friedel.

Interestingly, Arena credited a tactical switch from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 as the reason the Revolution came back from being a goal down at halftime.

“I think I probably screwed them up in the first half a little bit,” Arena said. “I don’t think that formation they were
comfortable enough in, and not bad, as much as it was more favorable for Houston to play against. We
wanted to see [Justin] Rennicks up top with [Juan Fernando] Caicedo. So, we got that opportunity. I think
the second half, switching our formation a little bit helped. But at the end of the day, it’s still 11 against 11.
I don’t get entirely consumed with the discussion of formations. Of course, if the players know how to
move and work together, any formation you play can work.”

With the win, the Revs sit just three points outside of the playoffs. We’re not saying that they can win the whole thing, but a late-season surge to make the playoffs? We’ve seen weirder things happen.

As he plans to rebuild Revs, Arena ‘proud’ of second USMNT stint

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Bruce Arena has accepted the challenge of rebuilding the New England Revolution, though the legendary American coach is still being quizzed about his last gig.

Speaking Thursday after his appointment as Revs boss, Arena was asked about rebounding from the United States men’s national team’s terrible failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

[ MORE: Jovic to Real Madrid ]

It was always going to happen, and his quotes were always going to grab headlines. Arena, for his part, did not disappoint.

“I was actually proud of the job I did in 2017,” Arena said. “We had a great group of players and they worked real hard and we fell short. That’s life, unfortunately. Sometimes people don’t understand that. We played 18 games and lost two of them in 2017. Overall, I think it was a positive experience.”

The Yanks lost two of their final four games in the Hex, gaining just four points. The first loss was at home to Costa Rica and the second was to already-eliminated Trinidad and Tobago’s B Team.

“Certainly, I’m as disappointed as anybody in that failure. I don’t define that as my legacy, personally. I know others do. I’m working and trying to be as good as I can be. I’m 67 years old in a country where the president is in his 70s. His likely competition in the next election is 70-something, so I’m the young kid on the block. Did I have to do this? No. But I love coaching, I love the sport, I love the challenge in building the game in this country; it’s something I’ve done for 40 years and it’s not easy to walk away from. It’s something that’s very important for me and that’s why I’m here today.”

So anyway…

New England fired Brad Friedel last week with the club five points outside the playoff picture, and Arena says the team’s goal is to get back into the postseason discussion.

The Revs have allowed the most goals in Major League Soccer this season, and missed the playoffs by nine points last season. Arena will bring league nous to New England, and he does have weapons in the form of Carles Gil and Juan Agudelo, but success will take time and added talent.

He’s Back: Revs hire Bruce Arena as head coach, sporting director

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One of the most decorated coaches in MLS history is back in the league.

The New England Revolution announced that it had hired legendary coach Bruce Arena as its new head coach and sporting director. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Arena is starting as coach with immediate effect. The news of Arena’s appointment came one day after the Revolution announced it was parting ways with general manager Michael Burns, and less than a week since former coach Brad Friedel was let go with a record of 12-21-13.

[READ: PST Writers’ PL Best XI]

Friedel was appointed ahead of the 2018 season with the hopes of turning around a Revolution side that made a deep run in the MLS playoffs in 2014, but had struggled in the years since. However, with a 3-8-2 record this season, Arena will have his hands full in trying to get this squad to improve through the next five months of the season.

“Bruce is one of the most successful coaches in American soccer history, and we feel his commitment to excellence, track record of winning championships in Major League Soccer, as well as his success at the international level, makes him the best person to bring the Revolution back to MLS Cup contention,” Revolution and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement. “We have known Bruce dating back to the advent of MLS, and we have full confidence that he will raise the level of our club to the standard we all expect and demand.”

As most of the world moves to an American sports model, with separate sporting directors/general managers and head coaches working in tandem, it is interesting to see Arena still with the influence and reputational strength to occupy both positions. In the past, Arena and the LA Galaxy’s ownership group with AEG worked in tandem to sign big stars and MLS standouts, and it’s possible that Arena sees that type of relationship happening again.

The move from the Krafts to fire both Burns and Friedel could be a changing of the tides. The Revs, still playing in the cavernous Gillette Stadium, still feel like an MLS 1.0 team, while Atlanta United, the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Sporting KC, to use a few examples, all feel like they’re living in the 2019 version of the league. To this point, the Revs have just one Designated Player signed, former Aston Villa midfielder Carles Gil, and the team relies quite a bit on once-promising prospects that haven’t really panned out as stars; Teal Bunbury, Juan Agudelo and Scott Caldwell all come to mind.

Is the appointment of Arena a sign that the Kraft family is as ambitious as Arthur Blank or Merrit Paulson? That the Revs will start to spend big to keep up with the giants of MLS? Or is it a big signing in name only, with Arena not receiving the funds and support he was likely promised to take a rebuilding job like this. Only time will tell.

NE Revs fire Friedel after dreadful 46-game spell

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Brad Friedel is out as head coach of the New England Revolution after just 46 games (one full season, plus one-third of another), a spell in which the club’s record was 12W-13D-21L in MLS play.

[ MORE: David Beckham’s Inter Miami plans to sign players this summer ]

The Revs have won just two of their first 12 games this season (2W-2D-8L) and currently sit bottom of the Eastern Conference. Assistant coach Mike Lapper will take over as interim head coach while a search is conducted to appoint Friedel’s permanent successor.

Friedel, a U.S. men’s national team star from 1992 to 2005, had never been in charge of a club team prior to his appointment in November 2017. Whether or not Friedel is or isn’t a good coach perhaps still remains to be seen, but would be fair to say that the players at his disposal are not of the quality of the coaches with whom he was expected to compete. It would also be fair to say that the gap between the Revs’ roster and even the league’s middling teams is widening.

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For that reason, a growing number of fans in Boston don’t believe the rot stops by simply removing Friedel. They would like to see the person who hired Friedel and built the current roster, general manager Mike Burns, held accountable for failing to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs three years running as well as the dreadful start to 2019.