For the first time in their 25-year history, the Revolution will go into a season with three Designated Players under contract, the maximum allowed by MLS. Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, and Carles Gil have been acquired for a total of $12.7 million in transfer fees — representing the first significant investment the Revolution have made in the international market.
Those acquisitions, plus the hiring of sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena and the opening of a $35 million training facility, indicate the Revolution’s renewed ambition.
Bou (Argentina), Buksa (Poland), and Gil (Spain) also exemplify the variety of backgrounds reflected on the Revolution roster. Bou and Gil seemed to hit things off quickly last season, sparking the team’s first run to the playoffs since 2015. Buksa joined the Revolution last month and combined well with Bou during the preseason, while Gil sat out with a foot injury.
How the three DPs match up could determine the Revolution’s fate this season, beginning with a visit to the Montreal Impact for the opener Saturday.
During a lengthy interview at the team’s facility behind Gillette Stadium this week, the three DPs responded to a series of questions. Bou, 29, the oldest of the three, proved most adept at keeping the mood light, and his one-liners, combined with expressions and gestures, often overcame the language barrier. The responses of Bou and Gil are translated from Spanish.
Q. Some Revolution players reside outside the city, in bucolic settings, nearer to Foxborough. You’ve chosen to live in the city (Buksa in Quincy). How are you liking Boston?
Bou: I find it relaxing in Boston. I lived in Argentina, and I spent a lot of time in Buenos Aires, which is really chaotic, crowded, but I was very relaxed there. I feel comfortable in the city. I spend a lot of time with my family.
Gil: I live in the center [Seaport] but it is quiet.
Q. You’re favorite place in Boston?
Gil: Mi casa.
Bou: Mi casa, too. We spend a lot of time here at the training center.
Buksa: I live in Quincy, I really like it, it’s between Foxborough and Boston. Really calm city, beautiful views. I’ve been a few times to Boston and I also really like it. It’s a big city but not compared to New York, where I was last year.
So far, I really, really enjoy it, and I still want to discover more in the state. I was in the Aquarium, the Seaport, which I really like. I haven’t been to a Celtics game but I really want to because I enjoy watching basketball. There are a few places I really want to visit.
Bou : He likes everything. [Laughter.]
Q. The Revolution roster includes at least 11 nationalities, and the native tongues vary. How do you three communicate?
Bou: With the ball. [Laughter.] We try to teach each other a few words. We don’t want to complicate it, but we have to communicate a lot in our movements and what we do with the ball. But you have to remember, the ball doesn’t talk. [More laughter.]
Gil: Some speak English, some Spanish, but in the end it’s futbol, and we understand the things we need to understand.
Buksa: Most of the players speak English, so it’s easy. But there are some players who speak Spanish, so you have to get used to it, and also I think I have to learn some basic Spanish words to understand each other better. But it’s OK.
Q. Bruce Arena believes you three can work together to produce goals and set them up. What did he see in you to make him believe that?
Bou: I think us three have different characteristics and I think we can work together well. Last season, Carles and I worked well together. Adam is the style of player we really need — a forward who is a pivot who we can connect with. Carles and I know each other well and now we are getting to know Adam, and this chemistry is important for forwards.
Gil: The characteristics we have are going to benefit each other.
Buksa: That’s what we have preseason for, so it’s getting better and better. I’m still waiting for Carles to get out there. I think we’re getting to know each other much better and now is the time to show this chemistry on the pitch in the league. This is the most important thing and I think we prepared well.
Q. What were your impressions of Boston before you arrived? The city’s history? Sports teams? Cold and snow?
Bou: I did not know anything, but since I got here, I’ve found beautiful places. A lot of history. I like it a lot.
Gil: I didn’t know the city but I had a friend here and I talked with him and he said he liked it a lot. It’s a city that’s not too big and not too small and he said I would like it.
Buksa: I had never been to Boston before, so the only thing I could do was check online. But I had a good feeling about the city and I’m sure I did well joining the club.
I’m not surprised how beautiful the city is. So, I really like living here. I’m used to it. In Poland, most of the year it’s cold and snow, so it’s nothing new for me.
Q. Are you following any of the other Boston sports teams?
Gil: I follow the Celtics a little. I don’t follow the Patriots because I don’t really like American football.
Buksa: Not at the moment. But when the season of American football starts, I hope to follow the Patriots, but I still have to get to know all the rules.
Q. Boston teams have their own stadia. How do you think the Revolution would do if they had a stadium located in the city?
Bou: Futbol might not be the most popular sport in the country, but if the Revolution have their own stadium in Boston, it will be full.
Q. Are there any cities you are particularly looking forward to visiting, or teams to play against?
Bou: Most of the teams are good and it’s competitive. The important thing is to start the season strong.
Gil: Well, it’s a league that every year is different and not like in Europe where you have clubs that are favorites every year. Los Angeles is one. Atlanta is a rival, they finished ahead of us, and now we have to try to finish higher in the standings.
Buksa: I’m looking forward to playing against Portland, Chicago, and Cincinnati because they have Polish players. But I’ve never played against any American or MLS teams before, except this preseason. So, for me, it’s a new experience.
Q. What did you know about Bruce Arena before you joined the Revolution?
Bou: He knew me from Los Angeles [Bou played for Club Tijuana against Arena’s LA Galaxy] and when he called, I was interested. I knew he was famous here and so when I came here, I got to know him. He convinced me about this project.
Gil: No, I didn’t know him either. I didn’t know much about American futbol. But when he came in, they talked about his experience and how it would be great to work with him. He has a lot of experience in the league and we’re really happy to be working with him.
Buksa: Well, he was a very well-known coach in Poland mostly because of the World Cup in 2002, when the USA faced Poland in Korea [Poland won, 3-1]. And I know this coach only from the TV, so I was curious. But I only heard good opinions about him, so that was one of the reasons why I came here.
Q. Foreign players often comment on the great distances between cities in MLS. What has been the most difficult adjustment you’ve had to make?
Bou: Sometimes the trip is longer than others, but the same thing happens to teams that have to come here. So sometimes there is an advantage for the home team because the other team can be tired.
Gil: It’s something different than Spain and England. In the end, the charter flights are going to help.
Buksa: It’s much different, because the longest flight in Poland, I think, was 45 minutes, similar to what we’re going to have to Montreal. I’m looking forward to it, I’m not afraid of it. It’s something new, it’s a good experience, and I’m really curious how we will deal with it. But the conditions are the same for every team, so we have to accept it.
Q. The Revolution were eliminated by Atlanta United in the playoffs last season. Are you looking to avenge that result?
Gil: Not revenge. We were disappointed, but it was positive, the way we ended up playing last season. And now it’s important that we improve in the standings because of the home-field factor in the playoffs.
Q. Can this Revolution team win the MLS Cup?
Bou: Obviously, it’s important for us, our coach, the institution, to win titles. But it will be very difficult.
Gil: That’s what we are working for. But it won’t be easy; all teams are working to win the championship. But, hopefully, we’ll have a chance.
Buksa: Why not? Everything is possible, especially in soccer. So we have to believe it and we have to work for it. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but it will be very difficult. But, in my opinion, we have to believe it and do everything we can to do it.