The Revolution’s shakeup that began with the firing of coach Brad Friedel last week continued with the dismissal of general manager Michael Burns on Monday. On Tuesday, the team officially announced the hiring of former US national team coach Bruce Arena.
Arena’s role will be as as the club’s sporting director and head coach.
Revolution owners Jonathan and Robert Kraft attempted to lure Arena to the team after the 2017 season, shortly after he had resigned as US coach. The Revolution went with Friedel, who had been recruited by Burns, his former national team roommate. Friedel had no previous head coaching experience with a club team, but had a 20-plus-year professional playing career in Europe and in MLS.
Arena, 67, brings vast experience and credibility to the Revolution. Plus, this is a chance for Arena to return to administration after he guided the United States in a failed 2018 World Cup qualification campaign. Arena has won five MLS Cups, with D.C. United (1996 and ’97) and the LA Galaxy (2011, ’12, ’14) and led the US to a quarterfinal appearance in the 2002 World Cup.
Arena compiled a 240-147 record with D.C. United, the New York Red Bulls, and Galaxy. He left the Galaxy in November 2016 to replace Jurgen Klinsmann with the US, but the World Cup qualification campaign ended with a 2-1 loss at Trinidad and Tobago a year later.
Revolution president Brian Bilello said Monday the team would be announcing a replacement for Burns but did not reveal a name.
“We will be going forward with a [general manager] with a high track record of success in the league and in soccer,” Bilello said. “It’s really a tough day for the club and everyone that has been here [because] we have so much respect for Michael and for everything he has done for the club. We wish him success in the future.”
Asked about the timing of the changes and a replacement for Burns, Bilello said: “Everything is tied together to a certain degree. Obviously, two big moves we made in less than a week. Especially after Wednesday night [5-0 loss at Chicago] we had a real immediate need to do something to help the team and players out in the very short term and, obviously, the long term.”
Burns, a Marlborough native who played for the Revolution from 1996-2000, worked in the team’s front office starting in 2005 and played a primary role in the hiring of coaches Jay Heaps and Friedel.
The Revolution (3-8-2, 11 points) are off to the slowest start in their 24-year history. In Lapper’s first game as interim coach, the Revolution snapped a four-game winless streak with a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday. They are preparing for a charity game against Chelsea FC on Wednesday and visit to Montreal next Saturday.