After failing to make the MLS playoffs for the third successive season, the Revolution are planning significant changes for next season, according to coach Brad Friedel.
Friedel’s first season as coach concluded with a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact on Sunday, but the Revolution (10-13-11, 41 points) had been out of realistic postseason contention for the last month. And the 28,239 attendance for the match was the first crowd below 32,000 for a home finale since 2013.
This year, Friedel made several on-field changes but waited too long on some, and the Revolution could not regain momentum after getting off to a 7-4-6 start.
The Revolution are in the midst of establishing an identity and Friedel’s task has not been as simple as it seemed when he was hired in November 2017. Friedel’s emphasis on a high-pressing style appeared to work well for the first half of the season. But opposing teams adjusted as the season progressed and the Revolution did not have a playmaking central midfielder or possession game to fall back on.
Friedel has implied he will bring in players of the caliber of Michael Mancienne, who became the league’s highest-paid central defender ($1.37 million) when he joined the Revolution in August.
But the Revolution also will have to accommodate holdovers such as Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe. Fagundez has two years remaining on a contract worth $190,000 annually (12th highest-paid player on the team), and Rowe will be in the final year of a deal worth $258,000 with incentives (11th on the team).
The Revolution qualified for the postseason eight successive times (2002-09) under Steve Nicol’s coaching, but have advanced to the playoffs only thrice in the last nine years. Fagundez and Rowe played important roles in the Revolution’s playoff seasons (2013-15) and are clearly integral parts of the team.
Rowe, who has scored 36 goals in all competitions, eighth on the Revolution’s all-time list, has been limited offensively the last two seasons, mostly because of multiple positional changes. Rowe started at outside back six times in 2017 and four times in 2018.
Rowe is clearly reluctant to take on a defensive role, but he has been diplomatic about his situation.
“Whether it’s right back, goalkeeper, left back, or central midfield, I’m playing the game I love to play every day,” Rowe said Sunday.
Rowe does not qualify for free agency and would have little leverage in negotiations. But Rowe could become frustrated if he is not offered a significantly better contract and/or guaranteed not to be played out of position.
Missing the mark?
Gregg Berhalter could be an excellent candidate for US national team coaching position. But the US Soccer Federation has likely erred in refusing to interview other highly qualified candidates, including Atlanta United’s Tata Martino.
Martino has proved himself at the club level in Europe, South America, and the United States, and also at the national team level with Argentina and Paraguay. Martino has led Atlanta United to a 38-19-16 record in two seasons; Berhalter’s record is 74-69-46 in five seasons with the Columbus Crew. It seems unconscionable to have ignored Martino’s experience, even if he is not considered fluent in English.
Martino, who seems set to take the Mexico national team position, is not the only accomplished, high-profile coach the USSF has neglected to interview. Others with equally strong credentials also have been refused.
Meanwhile, former Stockton State (N.J.) star Santiago Solari is set to take over as Real Madrid’s interim manager. Solari, 42, connected with Stockton State when Saudi Arabia, managed by his uncle, Jorge “El Indio” Solari, trained in the area during the 1994 World Cup. Solari, who played for Los Blancos, is coaching Real Madrid’s “B” team in Castilla, the team Zinedine Zidane led before taking charge at Real Madrid.
Real Madrid had considered former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and Belgium’s Roberto Martinez as successors to Julen Lopetegui, who was fired following a 5-1 loss to Barcelona.
No dull moments
Former Revolution goalkeeper/coach Walter Zenga, 58, has had an eventful start to his stint with Venezia FC, the 17th team he has coached (in eight countries). Last week, Zenga guided the Lagunari to 1-1 draws with second-place Verona in Venice and at fourth-place Palermo in a five-day period. Against Palermo, Zenga made a key 58th-minute substitution, adding 21-year-old Jacopo Segre, who scored his first professional goal in the 63rd minute. Zenga was then red-carded in the 65th minute and Venezia, despite playing with a man advantage, squandered the lead in injury time. Venezia, whose president is Bridgeport University graduate Joe Tacopina, scored a 1-0 win over Cremonese on Tuesday.
Several other former Revolution players have gone on to successful coaching careers. Oscar Pareja (FC Dallas) and Giovanni Savarese (Portland Timbers) will meet in the first round of the MLS playoffs next week. Braeden Cloutier (Orange County SC) and John Wolyniec (New York Red Bulls II) have guided teams into the semifinals of the USL playoffs.