A year after setting the Major League Soccer record for most points in a regular season, the Revolution are 11th in the Eastern Conference with 12 games.
Bruce Arena, having already seen several of his 2021 stars depart for Europe, continued to reshape his roster over the past week. With the deadline for the MLS secondary transfer window on Thursday, New England worked to bring in players and send some out.
After bringing on two MLS veterans – forward Jozy Altidore and midfielder Sebastien Lelet – to provide experience, quality and depth, Arena moved quickly to send both away for the remainder of 2022.
Altidore, 32, was sent on loan to Mexican side Pueblas after managing just one goal in 21 appearances with the Revolution in 2022.
Lelette, 29, was traded to FC Dallas for the normal allotment amount. The former LA Galaxy playmaker made a bigger impact on the field than Altidore, scoring two goals and adding five assists in 19 appearances. Yet with the inclusion of Giacomo Vriani, it is possible that Lelet’s playing time may have been reduced.
“Jozzie wanted to be a place where he would get a chance to play more. And I think the move with Sebastian was both personal and football, and I think moving him to a new setting will help him,” Arena said. “So, we definitely wish him all the best.”
Altidore will return to the New England roster in 2023 when the loan to the Pueblas expires. However, Lelette closely followed his Revolutionary tenure only a few months later. Arena, for her part, said that she thinks Lelet’s move will ultimately be mutually beneficial.
“He was one of the more productive players we had, but I think the move was good for him personally,” Arena told reporters on Thursday. “I think it will help both of us in the end, so I think Sebastian’s world. I hate to see him go, but I think it’s a good opportunity for him.”
New England is also busy adding new players to help fill the void. With the in-season additions of winger Dylan Borrero, goalkeeper Jordje Petrovic, and striker Giacomo Vrioni, Revolution recently acquired defender Christian Makoun from Charlotte FC and winger Ismail Tajouri-Shradi from LAFC (both for general allocation funds). . The team also added backup goalkeeper Clement Diop in a deal with Inter Miami.
Asked about Makoun, Arena said, “He is a good young defender, 22 years old, left footed centre, physically good, experienced with Venezuela at the international level.” “We think he’s a player who can help our team.”
Tajouri-Shradi, 28, was born in Switzerland and represents Libya internationally. He scored two goals in six games in 2022, all with Los Angeles. In total, he has 28 goals in 90 career MLS appearances (the majority of which came with New York City FC between 2018 and 2021).
And while the transfer window for international signings is closed, New Englanders can theoretically still sign free agents or trade within MLS (and include domestic players).
Overall, it’s clear Arena recognized that many of their off-season veterans weren’t getting signed out. Instead of doubling down on players who haven’t completely clicked, he went the other direction and tried to reset his roster.
Fortunately, the youth signings in 2022 have proved to be largely successful so far. Borrero and Petrovic have looked particularly good at times (including the young goalkeeper’s penalty kick against Italian international Lorenzo Insigne in last week’s 0-0 draw with Toronto).
“Sometimes it is difficult to watch, because this league is a different league. Sometimes we need a few months to adapt here, but they have shown they are very good players,” Revolution captain Carles Gill said on Thursday. “Jordje is an incredible defender. Definitely one of the best in the league.
“And Dylan too, he’s very young, but he has incredible skills,” Gill said. “He is injured now, but I am sure that when he comes back, he will help us. We are very happy for him and with him here.”
For the Revolution to climb back to the playoff spot, the team would need to continue its progress earlier than expected of its youth squad. Varioni will also be counted for the goal.
But after starting the year with a flurry of veteran signings, Arena has clearly changed course. It remains to be seen whether the reset is enough to revive the team’s chances postseason.
New England will play Orlando City on Saturday at 7:30 pm
Stay up to date on all the latest news from Greeley Tribune.com