Revolution planning ‘major changes,’ but the coach will stay the same
The Revolution had been eliminated from MLS postseason contention before their 2-0 win over Orlando City last Saturday, but general manager Michael Burns has given Brad Friedel assurances that he will return as coach next year.
The Revolution (9-12-11, 38 points) missed the playoffs for the third successive season and have not won a postseason contest since 2014.
“Brad will be back next year,” Burns said after a groundbreaking ceremony for a practice facility in Foxborough Monday. “Brad will be part of this whole thing.
“We’re hopeful [the training center] is going to pay immediate dividends and long-term dividends. We have very good facilities now, but to go from having very good facilities to what I believe will be one of the best training centers in all of MLS is pretty phenomenal.”
Burns affirmed Friedel’s statement that the Revolution will be making “major changes” in the offseason.
“The expectation every year is to make the playoffs,” Burns said. “There is a lot of disappointment; for the third year we haven’t got in, and to be so close.”
The training center, a $35 million project scheduled to be completed next year, is expected to help attract young players for the Development Academy and for the first team.
“This is as excited as I’ve been about any initiative other than probably the start of the Revs,” Burns said. “It’s that significant to me. It’s that important.
“From where we were in 1996 — training at Babson, Brandeis, Payson Road — from just hoping to have a league to play in, to us having our own training center with a 30,000-square-foot-plus building, three grass fields, a turf field, and a field house, it’s exceeded anything I would ever have thought.
“[When MLS started] everyone talked about soccer-specific stadiums but there was no real discussion about training facilities, and now, all of a sudden, we’re one of many that are going to have their own training center.
“In terms of player recruitment for both the first team and academy, for actual training — walking out of the building right into training, it’s phenomenal. It’s a special day.”
Hall door opens
After the Revolution visit Real Salt Lake Thursday, Friedel will go to Dallas for the National Soccer Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Friedel will be presented by Los Angeles Lakers chief operating officer Tim Harris, who preceded Friedel as a goalkeeper at UCLA and earned one cap for the US national team.
Friedel made his international debut as the US squad took a 2-0 win over Canada at St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1992. The US lineup included current Friedel assistant coach Mike Lapper and future Revolution players Burns, Yari Allnutt, John DeBrito, and Joe-Max Moore, plus Fernando Clavijo, who coached the team from 2000-02.
Canada’s lineup included future Revolution players Geoff Aunger and Mark Watson, plus former Boston Bolt Mike Sweeney and Alex Bunbury, whose son, Teal, plays for the Revolution now.
Friedel totaled 21 shutouts in 82 games for the US team, concluding his career with a 1-0 win over Poland in Plock in 2004.
Friedel helped the US team advance to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, its second-best finish ever. Friedel made penalty kick saves against South Korea and Poland and blanked Mexico, 2-0, in the second round.
After 2004, Friedel left the US national team to concentrate on his club career. He set a Premier League record with 310 consecutive appearances in goal, and won the English League Cup (with Blackburn Rovers) and Turkish Cup (with Galatasaray).
Friedel competed for eight clubs in four countries (Newcastle United, Brondby, Galatasaray, Columbus Crew, Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, and Tottenham). His longevity can be credited to athleticism — he also starred in basketball and tennis in high school — plus a strict diet and yoga.
His sense of anticipation plus a powerful presence made Friedel one of the Premier League’s best keepers from the 1990s through 2015.
“I was really lucky to play over three different decades,” Friedel said. “I was over at Nottingham Forest the first season of the Premier League. And a couple years after that, the ’92-93 season, players became rock stars overnight and the money just went through the roof.
“And once social media started to become such an important part of everyday life, footballers were just in the spotlight 24/7. You got to see how their off-the-field lifestyle changed dramatically.
“One thing that has changed is the amount of athletes in the game. It used to be you could get away with just being technical on the ball. Nowadays, if you’re not strong, if you’re not quick, if you don’t have some sort of extraordinary physical talent to go along with your skill, it’s very difficult to make it at the highest level.
“Until you’re up close and personal and watch a Liverpool and Man City or Real Madrid or a Barcelona, how big and strong and powerful these players are. I don’t mean all of them have to be 6 foot, but just look at the size of their legs, just their balance, and strength and their explosiveness. That is something that has changed exponentially in the world.
“Who knows if it’s going to change again but that is where the game has gone. And the amount of high-intensity running and sprints and endurance compared to 10 years ago is just off the charts.”