Rev's Friedel starts head coaching career at Philadelphia
While the New England Revolution have added their fair share of new players during the offseason, the most anticipated debut in their season opener at the Philadelphia Union on Saturday may be that of coach Brad Friedel.
Friedel, a former star goalkeeper in the English Premier League who helped the United States to a quarterfinal finish at the 2002 World Cup, has never before assumed the role of head coach for a full professional season.
The goal for his first game in charge? An away victory for a Revs team that had to wait until its final game of the season for its first road win of 2017.
"We're going to try to go into Philadelphia with a winning mentality that we've tried to promote during preseason," Friedel said. "We're not going to change the way we play just because we're going on the road. And we'll see what happens."
Also debuting for New England could be outside back Gabriel Somi, and midfielders Wilfried Zahibo and Cristian Penilla, who all joined the club this winter.
Midfielder Kelyn Rowe, who is entering his seventh season with the Revs, says a different method of preparation will also be on display.
"With a lot of preseasons that I've been through, this is the most we've harped on the fitness that we have and the way we want to go about defending," Rowe said.
Meanwhile, the Union will open their season most likely without their splashiest offseason acquisition, Czech international playmaking midfielder Borek Dockal.
Union sporting director Earnie Stewart made public his intention to sign someone in Dockal's position early in the offseason. But the club wasn't able to announce the deal officially until Wednesday, after lengthy negotiations to secure the 29-year-old on loan from Chinese club Henan Jianye.
That time frame means Philadelphia will probably wait until their second game, also at home against Columbus Crew SC on March 17, to unveil Dockal. Even so, coach Jim Curtin believes it could give his side some extra energy Saturday.
"There is a buzz and an excitement to sign a player of Borek Dockal's pedigree," Curtin said. "A guy who has done it for his national team, a guy who has worn the captains' armband."
Philadelphia's other big offseason acquisition, former Chicago Fire winger David Accam, should be available after he was acquired in January on the day of the 2018 MLS Super Draft.
Accam was one of the MLS's most productive attacking players last season, scoring 14 goals and adding eight assists.
"We went into the offseason with the mindset of targeting a winger who has speed," Curtin explained. "Earnie ... did a great job certainly checking that box. We talked about a No. 10 who can not only be a volume guy, can not only be on the ball a lot, but also makes all the players around him better. We believe that we've checked that box as well."
Updated March 2, 2018