Looking for sixth MLS title, Bruce Arena has made the Revolution worth watching

Thanks a lot, TV scheduling gods.
Major League Soccer continues to schedule playoff games up against the NFL, surely thinking their fans aren’t going to be the ones lost to those watching football games on Sunday no matter how frustrating that may be locally, where fans tend to get on board with any winning team.
Unfortunately for them, the Revolution are playing in the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals at 3 p.m. Sunday against Orlando. They’ll kick off about the same time as the Patriots receive (or kick) for the start of the second half against the Cardinals in a key matchup that’ll determine whether or not the Pats still have an outside chance at making the playoffs.
The Revolution won’t get the eyeballs they deserve, but another win on Sunday against a strong Orlando squad that features former English Premier League champion Nani would at least provide a spark.
And remind everybody that the coaches in this town are among the best in the country.
Revs coach Bruce Arena already owns the MLS record for most championships (five; 1996, 1997, 2011, 2012 and 2014), wins (218), playoff wins (34) and winning percentage among active coaches (.596). And he took the U.S. Men’s National team to the World Cup twice, including the quarterfinals in 2002, when the run ended with a 1-0 loss to Germany after a controversial handball on the goal line wasn’t called.
If he’s able to win a title with the Revs, a team that was little more than an afterthought in this town for five years until he got here, he’d get his sixth MLS Cup, the same number won by Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Even as the Pats and Red Sox have underwhelming rosters and are struggling to compete, let’s consider for a moment how spoiled we’ve been with the coaching in this city.
Now that Alex Cora is back in the manager’s office at Fenway Park, the Sox have a manager who has led them to a 192-132 (.593) record and one World Series title in two years at the helm.
Bruce Cassidy has gone 261-161 (.682) in parts of four seasons coaching the Bruins, who were Eastern Conference champions under his watch in 2019.
Brad Stevens took a little while to get the Celtics going, but his teams have gone 152-84 (.644) over the last three years.
Belichick requires no introduction, but for the sake of consistency, here are his numbers in 21 years coaching the Patriots: 241-89 (.676) and six Super Bowl wins in nine appearances.
While soccer is still treated by some as a second-class sport, locals should be eager to change that discussion considering who is leading their club.
Arena has not only created a winning culture in the Revs’ locker room, but he’s shaped the roster to his liking with Belichick-like control of the organization he joined midway through last season.
“I continue to say it, but this is the closest group that I’ve ever been a part of and I think it helps us on the field,” said Teal Bunbury, a Revs forward since 2014, when they lost to Arena’s L.A. Galaxy in the MLS Cup. “We want to battle for each other, we want to work for each other, and I think that should be the story, how we as a team want to fight for each other.”
For those able to flip stations between the Pats (who will play on FOX) and Revs (ABC) on Sunday afternoon, here are three guys to keep an eye on in Orlando:
1. Tajon Buchanon: Arena wasn’t responsible for drafting the gifted, 6-foot striker out of Syracuse University in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, but few would have predicted what Arena did with him. Nine days ago, the 21-year-old made his first career start at right back, where his speed and offensive talent were asked to be secondary to his ability to defend. And yet he’s been the Revs’ secret weapon, a spark down the right sideline who manufactured his own goal in the playoff win over Philadelphia, the best team in MLS this year. Unfortunately for the U.S. Men’s National team, Buchanon is from Ontario, Canada, and is looking likely to be on Canada’s radar with the 2022 World Cup qualifiers approaching.
2. Gustavo Bou: The 30-year-old Argentinian was one of Arena’s first acquisitions last summer, when the club spent a record $12 million to bring him to Foxboro. He’s been a goal-scoring machine, albeit one who shoots a lot, becoming soccer’s equivalent of J.R. Smith. Still, those players are remarkably valuable in MLS, where prime offensive talent is often sought out and lured to Europe. Bou has a big right foot, good speed and understands how to play the center forward position as well as most who have done it in New England.
3. Carles Gil: Every successful offense needs someone like Gil, who was playing in Spain’s second division before the Revs acquired him just before the start of the 2019 season. He’s got ball control and vision that allow him to captain the field with intent, and he’s able to bring out the strengths of Bou and striker Adam Buksa.
Most importantly, keep your volume on loud. Without fans in the stands for most of these games, the broadcast mics can pick up a lot of the sound from the sidelines, where Arena can be heard yelling with fiery passion at his players on the pitch.
He’s the best coach in MLS history, and he’s certainly worth watching.

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