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MLS Eastern Conference Final | Revolution at Columbus Crew, Sunday 3 p.m.

From a players’ perspective, Bruce Arena was just what the Revolution needed

Revolution coach Bruce Arena has New England in the MLS Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2014. The Revolution will face the host Columbus Crew on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Mapfre Stadium.
Revolution coach Bruce Arena has New England in the MLS Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2014. The Revolution will face the host Columbus Crew on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Mapfre Stadium.Stew Milne/Associated Press

From his youngest players to some of the club’s most senior members, Revolution coach Bruce Arena has been getting the most out of his talent.

After taking over a 2-8-2 team last May, Arena has the Revolution in the Major League Soccer Eastern Conference final for the first time since 2014, where New England will face the host Columbus Crew at 3 p.m. Sunday at Mapfre Stadium.

On Wednesday, homegrown midfielder Scott Caldwell and second-year defender DeJuan Jones spoke about Arena’s impact on the club.

“Ever since Day One [Arena has] brought a sense of success from his history — something that we can really rely on and learn from,” said Caldwell, who assisted on Charlie Davies’ 70th-minute goal in the 2014 Eastern Conference final.

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New England's DeJuan Jones likes the way Bruce Arena has handled the team.
New England's DeJuan Jones likes the way Bruce Arena has handled the team.Stew Milne/Associated Press

“He’s really done a nice job in player management and getting our players playing at the best level possible. That’s what you need from a successful team.”

Jones is part of a young backline that includes Henry Kessler, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 MLS Draft out of the University of Virginia, and Tajon Buchanan, a 21-year-old who was named 2020 Canadian Youth International Player of the Year on Tuesday.

Buchanan switched from forward to right back this postseason and has galvanized the Revolution attack, scoring in a 2-0 first-round upset of the Philadelphia Union.

“I’m super proud of Tajon,” Jones said. “He’s been really showing what he can do this year, given time to play on the field, so he’s really seizing the opportunity. In terms of the backline, these guys are young but they play very mature.”

Switching Buchanan to right back is yet another example of Arena’s postseason acumen. The veteran coach made several crafty adjustments during dynastic runs with the D.C. United and Los Angeles Galaxy and his teams are now 28-0-3 in the playoffs when scoring first.

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In his 16th season as an MLS coach, Arena has the Revolution playing disciplined soccer with just 1.09 goals allowed per game. The Revs are 6-3-4 on the road or at neutral sites and are embracing the challenge as they prepare to face the Crew.

“Right now, we’re like an underdog team,” Jones said. “Every game we go to, we’re on the road. Everyone’s kind of going against us, so it’s definitely nice to have our community behind us.

“We’re an exciting team. We’re never going to give up. We’re going to play until the final whistle, and right now we’re scoring goals so it’s exciting football that we’re playing right now. We just have to keep going and bring a trophy to Boston.”