FOXBOROUGH — After the Revolution were eliminated from the playoffs by New York City FC Tuesday night, sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena raised questions about his plans for next season.
“My future?” Arena said. “I didn’t think about it after the game ended, to be honest with you, but we’ll see. We’ll see what makes sense. Every day I coach is sort of a blessing. If it ends today, it ends today. It’s not the end of the world. I’m really comfortable with the number of years I’ve been able to coach, and we’ll see if it continues. We’ll see what makes sense. We’ll think about it a little bit, let the owners think about it a little bit, and then we all move forward.”
Arena was clearly disappointed following the Revolution’s 2-2 tie and subsequent defeat on penalty kicks to NYCFC. During the post-match news conference, Arena said the Revolution had overachieved in compiling a league-record 22-5-7 (73 points) mark, and said the team needed to improve, implying he would be involved.
“We had a very good year, and you could argue that maybe we played a little bit over our heads,” Arena said. “We don’t have the best roster in the league. It’s got to get a little bit better, for sure. But I think, if you look at the year on the whole, it was a really good year. Certainly, we would’ve liked to have won the MLS Cup, but you know, those things happen when you get into the postseason with single elimination. Then you go to penalties, and you position yourself for that, it’s a crapshoot. Anyone can win.”
Arena, 70, is the oldest coach in MLS history, and also the most successful. Arena has won five MLS Cups, along with three Gold Cups with the US national team, and this season captured his fourth Supporters’ Shield. Arena might not have much to prove, and it appears he has accomplished a goal of getting the Revolution on a winning track.
But Arena has not been able to take the Revolution to the MLS Cup final, falling in the Eastern Conference final last year and semifinals this time. Arena said he plans to discuss things with Robert and Jonathan Kraft, who are likely to encourage him to stay. The Revolution have lost in five MLS Cup finals, and Arena still seems like their best bet to win one.
This season seems like a missed opportunity, as the Revolution had clinched home field through the final. In 21 home playoff games since the league was established, the Revolution have compiled a 12-1-8 mark (Tuesday’s game is recorded as a tie), and would have had momentum on their side had they made the final this year.
But the Revolution were hampered by a 23-day layoff and met their match in NYCFC.
“Well, these things happen,” Arena said. “One team walks off the field winning and one loses. You don’t feel good about it, but that’s the reality of the situation. I think our guys gave a great effort, as did our opponent. It was a very competitive game and give New York City credit for winning it.”
After being eliminated by the Columbus Crew last season, Arena brought in midfielders Wilfrid Kaptoum and Lucas Maciel, who became part-time starters. But neither Kaptoum nor Maciel were major contributors down the stretch, though Maciel performed as an extra time substitute against NYCFC. So, the Revolution will likely look to again bolster the midfield, along with the wings, needing to replace Tajon Buchanan (heading to Club Brugge in Belgium). Also, the Revolution will have to upgrade the roster and expand depth to match the competition in the CONCACAF Champions League, which starts in February.
During recent interviews, Arena seemed optimistic about the Revolution’s future. And post-match, Arena defended the team’s accomplishments.
Asked if he thought the season had been a success, Arena replied: “I think any sensible, reasonable person would say that. If you think otherwise, I think you need to have your head examined.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.