Using the roller-coaster cliche when referring to a sports season feels like an easy way to describe the 2019 New England Revolution. This is a team that started the year in a death spiral with goals allowed pace that would have broken the MSL record.
After a 5-0 thumping at the hands of the Chicago Fire on May 8th, the Revolution made an organizational shifting type change. They fired Head Coach Brad Friedel and shortly thereafter General Manager Mike Burns.
To replace those two men the Revolution brought in Bruce Arena to be the team’s new head coach and Sporting Director. Under Arena and briefly Mike Lapper the Revolution capped off an 11-straight unbeaten run that ran from May 11th until August 3rd when MLS’s best LAFC defeated them 2-0 at Gillette Stadium.
That run helped propel the Revolution into their first MLS playoff appearance since 2015 and created a positive perception and mentality of the team for the first time in years. So to say 2019 was important to the Revolution and their history is an understatement.
Here are the top five moments from the year:
5. July 10th: Revolution Bring In Gustavo Bou
Bou was a mid-season acquisition and the first of the Arena era. La Pantera is the real deal and he quickly showed why. In 15 matches Bou scored 9 goals while also picking up 2 assists.
With Buksa being added into the mix as another Designated Player forward this could take some eyes off Bou and get him more open attempts in 2020.
4. December 9th: Revolution Open $35 Million practice facility
The facility itself has been in the making for over a year and officially opened in the fall of 2019. This is a state of the art training ground that not only makes the Revolution competitive in acquiring MLS level talent but rivals the top training grounds of top tier leagues in Europe.
It may seem a tad high to rank this fourth but it’s a true gamechanger for the franchise.
3. January 30th: Revolution Bring In Designated Player Carles Gil
Tip of the cap to the Mike Burns team on this one as Gil was their Designated Player signing from early in 2019. Gil was really a breath of fresh air in New England and his talent was quickly realized as being one of the better playmakers in all of MLS.
The Spaniard scored 10 goals and picked up 14 assists in 34 matches and quickly earned respect from his teammates becoming the Captain of the side rather early on in the season.
Will be incredibly interesting to see if Gil shifts back into the midfield a tad with New England bringing in Adam Buksa to add into the forward group. Taking the pressure of Gil as a goal scorer could even further open up his playmaking game.
2. October 19th: Revolution Play in First Playoff Match Since 2015
The New England Revolution were able to scrap their way into the MLS Cup Playoffs at the end of the 2019 season. This game came against a tough Atlanta United side that defeated the Revolution 1-nil.
But after New England’s start to the season just making the playoffs was a miracle. This appearance not only tells the rest of MLS and the world that the Revs are capable but it tells the players on the Revs that they have what it takes to get to the playoffs.
The obvious top choice. Under Arena, the Revolution became a different side overnight and have really spent some capital in acquiring resources to make the side competitive in the long-term.
Arena is a proven commodity in MLS and his arrival was a sign that the Revolution ownership group was willing to go all-in on being a top organization in Major League Soccer.
This first spot goes hand-and-hand with the departure of Brad Friedel and Mike Burns.
Honorable mentions: In chronological order
May 8th: Installing Mike Lapper as Interim
August 21st: Revolution Re-sign Matt Turner
September 26th: Revolution Erase Two-Goal Deficit to Draw with Portland
September 29th: Revolution Clinch MLS Playoff Berth
November 1st: Addition of Alexander Buttner
December 10th: Revolution sign a third DP