Revolution believe they can turn things around after coaching change
FOXBOROUGH — Changing coaches might not solve all of the Revolution’s problems. But the team believes elevating Mike Lapper from assistant coach to replace Brad Friedel could revive hope for a postseason berth.
“Yesterday was very difficult for us and the club,” general manager Mike Burns said of Thursday’s decision to fire Friedel. “Brad gave everything he had, but the decision was made, what we felt was in the best interests of the club going forward.
“And having two-thirds of the season left, in this league you can – you lose a few games and you’re really down, but you win two or three games and you’re right back in the mix. We have enough time left in the season to resurrect where we currently sit, and that’s the goal.”
The Revolution (2-8-2, 8 points) remain in last place in the Eastern Conference going into Saturday’s home game against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Burns said the final decision wasn’t made until after a 5-0 loss at Chicago on Wednesday night, and that Friedel was informed the next day.
Friedel was hired in November 2017 and guided the Revolution to a 10-13-11 record (41 points) last season, the third successive year the team failed to qualify for the playoffs.
“The first six months we were in solid position, we were playing well,” Burns said during a news conference Friday at Gillette Stadium. “Last summer we started a slide we never got out of.
“Obviously, we got off to a very slow start and I felt the last three, four, five games were more noncompetitive than competitive and we feel we have a better team and a better roster than what results have previously shown. And that was probably the reason why the decision was made.”
Burns said the timeline is “soon as possible” for hiring a permanent replacement for Friedel.
“Disappointing because I’ve known him for 30-plus years,” said Lapper, a Friedel teammate at UCLA, with the US national team, and with the Columbus Crew. “Sad but understanding, as was he.
“Fortunately, or unfortunately, we’re in this business of results matter. We knew something had to change, and you can’t change everybody in the locker room, and he’s doing fine. He understands. He’s a big boy. He’s been in that cutthroat business over in England, and he gets it.
“And I’m sure when it sinks in, he’ll be disappointed, but we’re all adults and we’re going to move on and we’re going to do what’s best for the club.”
The Revolution have recovered from poor starts in the past. In 2004, they started 2-7-3 (9 points), adjusting to the loss to central defender Carlos Llamosa (knee) in the final preseason match, then advanced to the playoffs.
Down to the wire
The English Premier League race will go to the final day, when Manchester City (31-4-2, 95 points) visits Brighton & Hove Albion and Liverpool (29-1-7, 94) plays host to Wolverhampton Sunday.
Liverpool has lost only three times since Jan. 3 — at Manchester City (2-1), at Wolverhampton (2-1) in the FA Cup, and at Barcelona (3-0) in the Champions League. The Man City result could prove decisive, as the Citizens have been able to maintain their advantage over the Reds. Liverpool was able to recover against Barcelona with a 4-0 home victory Tuesday, setting up a date with Tottenham in the Champions League final in Madrid June 1.
Liverpool’s rally against Barcelona recalled the team’s comeback in a 3-3 draw and penalty kicks win over Milan in the 2005 Champions League final.
“Lot of similarities,” said Vladimir Smicer, who scored a spectacular long-range goal against Milan. “In 2005, we came into halftime and we only had 45 minutes to do something with the game. This time the boys had 90 minutes, but with Lionel Messi on top of his form, it seemed like a very difficult task, and with no [Mohamed] Salah and Bobby Firmino.
“But we played well in Barcelona lost, 3-nil, but didn’t deserve to lose and we had chances. I knew we can score goals, the question was would be able to stop Messi to create something and score goals at Anfield?”
Smicer is hoping for “a miracle” on the final day of the Premier season and considers Liverpool favorites in the Champions League.
“I can compare it to American sports, like in NHL,” Smicer said. “There is more speed, technique, younger players are playing. It’s not like fighting and tough defense, it’s more open.
“In football, there is more skill, speed, more space for the players — that’s why there are more goals, crazy games. I think the teams are not as much focused on defending, more focused on attacking.
“Look at the left back and right back for Liverpool; they are on the side crossing and they are more thinking offense than defense. It’s good for fans, who like to see goals, chances, shots, and crosses, and that can only happen if defenders are creative and pass well and they are attacking.”
Chelsea on the way
Chelsea clinched a Champions League place with a 3-0 win over Watford, then eliminated Eintracht Frankfurt on penalty kicks in the semifinals of the Europa League Thursday. Chelsea, which will meet Arsenal in the Europa final, is set to arrive in Boston Monday in preparation for a charity game against the Revolution at 8 p.m. Wednesday . . . SL Benfica (26-3-3, 81 points) has a 2-point edge on Porto with two matches remaining in Portugal’s Primera Liga — at Rio Ave and against Santa Clara. Benfica, which will meet Milan in an International Champions Cup game at Gillette Stadium July 28, has been revived under the coaching of Bruno Lage. The Aguilas have compiled a 16-0-1 league record since Lage replaced Rui Vitoria, who moved to Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia in January. Joao Felix, a 19-year-old Benfica forward, has scored six goals in the last six games, including three in a 4-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarterfinals. Milan edged Bologna, 2-1, Monday, overtaking Roma for fifth place and an automatic Europa League place with three games remaining in the Serie A season. The match was marked by a clash involving Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso and Tiemoue Bakayoko, a French midfielder who is on loan from Chelsea. Italy’s top four teams will advance to the Champions League. Juventus and Napoli have clinched the top two spots, followed by Inter and Atalanta.