The New England Revolution kicked off their preseason on Monday after what was a busy offseason. Here are some of the offseason storylines that you may have missed.
The Revolution added four new names to their roster this offseason, including one on Tuesday of this week.
They kicked off the offseason by signing 17-year-old midfielder Issac Angking from the Revolution Academy on a HomeGrown player deal. They followed that signing Gabriel Somi from Östersunds FK, a 26-year-old left back with international experience. After Somi, they signed a 24-year-old defensive midfielder named Wilfried Zahibo from Spanish team Gimnàstic de Tarragona.
Earlier this week, the Revolution made their fourth signing of the break, signing Cristian Penilla on loan from Pachuca on a one-year loan for the 2018 season. His deal also contains an option to buy for the 2019 season.
Aside from these four signings, Head coach Brad Friedel teased that there were more signings on the way.
Brad Friedel noted that the #NERevs expect to sign 2-3 more players before the start of the season in early March.
— Jeff Lemieux (@jeff_lemieux) January 23, 2018
The Revolution had three picks in this year’s MLS SuperDraft, two in the first round and one in the fourth round.
With the eighth and ninth picks of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, the Revolution drafted Brandon Bye of Western Michigan University and Mark Segbers of the University of Wisconsin. Both players were right sided wingers in their college careers, but are expected to play as right backs for the Revolution.
With the 78th overall pick in the fourth round, the Revolution selected center back Nicolas Samayoa of Florida Gulf Coast University. The 22-year-old is 6-foot-2 and has dual citizenship in the U.S and Guatemala. Samayoa was a key figurehead in a successful FGCU defense and should have no problem fighting for a roster spot.
Lee Nguyen saga continues
Drama ensued when news broke that star playmaker Lee Nguyen requested a trade earlier on in the offseason. Friedel played down these rumors, telling mlssoccer.com that Nguyen would not be traded this offseason as he was a key player to the team.
However, news broke Tuesday that Nguyen did not show up to the first day of preseason, fueling more rumors that he wants to leave the club.
— Jonathan Sigal (@JonathanSigal) January 23, 2018
General manager Michael Burns released a statement on the situation surround Nguyen shortly after.
“Lee didn’t report to preseason and he’s not honoring his contract,” Burns said. “We’ll handle this matter internally, and we’ve already had discussions with MLS. It’ll be handled appropriately. We have zero tolerance for guys who don’t honor their contracts.”
While there is no indication of what the Revolution’s next move is, the strong language in this statement certainly suggests that Nguyen will face punishment for his absence.
Much like past preseasons, the Revolution have a preseason trialist that is practicing with the club.
The trialist is Jalil Anibaba, a center back with seven years of MLS experience. His most recent club was the Houston Dynamo, where he played 38 games over two seasons until his contract option was declined earlier this offseason. Prior to his time in Houston, Anibaba spent time with Sporting Kansas City, the Seattle Sounders, and the Chicago Fire.
Out of all the offseason additions that have joined the Revolution this offseason, Anibaba is the oldest at 29-years-old. Anibaba is a versatile defender who can play as either a center back or a fullback. While only time will tell if he can make the team, his addition would provide depth and experience at center back, which is a young and thin position on the current roster.
New Director of Scouting & Player Personnel
The Revolution made history this offseason by hiring their first ever Director of Scouting and Player Personnel.
Former assistant and goalkeeper coach Remi Roy was hired to this position. While serving as an assistant, Roy was heavily involved in scouting but was not solely focused on it. His hiring to this position shows a clear change in direction at the club, as they are beginning to focus more on acquiring young talent from not just in the U.S, but overseas as well.
Burns spoke very highly of Roy and was excited to have him in this new role going forward.
“Remi has been an important part of the Revolution organization in his eight years with the club,” Burns said. “As we continue to expand our efforts to identify talented players both domestically and internationally, having Remi focused solely on scouting will be a great asset to the club.”
Preseason training kicked off this week for the Revolution and they will be in game action under Friedel for the first time next week.
The Revolution first travel to Bradenton, Florida for games against an undetermined opponent on Jan. 31, Malmö FF of Sweden on Feb. 3, and FC Cincinnati on Feb. 6. Their next action will in Arizona, where the Revolution will face off in the Mobile Mini Sun Cup preseason tournament. Games in this tournament will be against FC Dallas on Feb. 14, FC Tucson on Feb. 17, and Sporting Kansas City on Feb. 21. If they progress in the tournament, they will play a final game on Feb. 24.
This offseason has been one of the Revolution’s busiest offseasons in a long time, as they got rid of many familiar faces but have also made some promising signings to replace them. With a new head coach and a largely new team, it will be exciting to see how the Revolution look as they head into their first preseason games, and eventually the new season.