New England Soccer Today

The Countdown Begins

Thirty-eight days.

That’s how much time general manager Michael Burns and first year head coach Jay Heaps have left to assemble a new and improved squad before the preseason kicks off on Jan. 16.

Following its worst season on record, it would be an understatement to say that Burns and Heaps have their work cut out for them. That’s what five-win seasons typically do. But, the men in charge of readying the Revs for 2012 made important strides so far.

So far, the front office has helped itself tremendously by re-signing key veterans Matt Reis and Shalrie Joseph. Important signings – just imagine an offseason in which replacements for Reis and Joseph are on the agenda. Pretty scary. But, there’s still more – so much more – to tackle before the team reassembles next month.

For starters, let’s look at the roster itself. Specifically, the actually number of players listed as of this afternoon. Twenty are named on the team’s website, but three of them – Milton Caraglio, Rajko Lekic and Monsef Zerka – recently had their options declined, so the actual number of players under contract stands at 17, leaving at least 11 vacant roster spots.

In a perfect world, the Revs would re-sign Caraglio, Lekic and Zerka, a trio of talented players who all helped legitimize the Revolution attack in the last weeks of the 2011 season. But, given the unlikelihood of all three accepting smaller sums to stay with the squad, Burns and Heaps will have to scour the globe to find suitable replacements. Easy Button, anyone?

In addition to the aforementioned performers, it’s likely that a number of players on the roster have deals that expire at the end of the month. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Revolution decline the options on players like Zak Boggs, Ryan Kinne and Tim Murray then, perhaps, invite them back for preseason trials (something Boggs did last year). But don’t count on every out of contract player getting a chance to return on trial.

Oh, and then there’s the small matter of recruiting the rest of the coaching staff. Nothing has been announced regarding the assistant coaches Heaps intends to hire, however, he’ll need to bring in some savvy assistants to help him build the roster – quickly at that.

Knowing that they amount of work they’ve got on their hands, Burns and Heaps have rolled up their sleeves. The Boston Globe reported that the duo were recently scouting South and Central America this week hoping to unearth a hidden gem or two as the reconstruction of the Revolution roster is in full swing.

Even though it may seem that, after the club declined options on seven players to date, the Revs are of the “addition by subtraction” philosophy – perhaps with good reason. But, despite the losses, the club made an intriguing move on Monday selecting former Toronto wingback Danleigh Borman in Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft. Should the team come to terms with the former Rhody Ram, the Revs may have a speedier version of Chris Tierney on their hands.

With Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft, the college drafts, and the winter transfer window on the agenda, there promises to be plenty of new players in place once Jan. 16th arrives, even if the Revs aren’t making trades left and right this offseason (what else is new?).

Heaps may be his own man, but given the team’s reputation as a spendthrift soccer outfit, expect the Revs to rely on the college drafts to rebuild their D and fortify their midfield, and the international market to find a forward or two.

Hot stove? Not so much. But whoever the Revs net in the next few weeks, the bottom line is that the organization is in a better position to strengthen itself than it was some 365 days ago. With Brian Bilello giving the club the “luxury” of a present club president, as well as an attitude shift in the manager’s office, count on the Revs to measure and maximize their moves better than ever.

Needless to say, a lot things need to happen before the the Revs get ready for the preseason. You’ll need the world’s best magic eight ball to find out how it’ll shake out. But one thing’s for sure: it’ll be a preseason unlike any other with Heaps on the bench. The new manager is anxious to infuse a new attitude to revitalize the team he poured his heart out for as a player not long ago.

There’s no doubt that he will. It’s just a matter of finding the players to instill those virtues come January. Not that Heaps or Burns need to be reminded, but the clock is ticking…


  1. Chris B

    December 9, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Very well written article. Is Borman going to sign soon, usually re-entry players have a week or so to sign? Also have you heard any updates on Lekic? I heard from the Danish media he said something along the lines of he officially received an offer at a lower price but called it fair due to the team having a terrible season. If this is true and Lekic signs than I think he’s a better person than some of his on-field antics seem to indicate.

  2. Brian O'Connell

    December 9, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for reading! I don’t believe there’s a “time limit” to sign a player taken in the re-entry draft (if I recall correctly, the Revs never signed Fred last year but nevertheless traded his rights to DC two months or so after he was taken in the draft). Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think there’s an official time limit. As far as Lekic staying here, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he took less money to stay. On the field, he comes across as an intense, over the top-type character. Off the field, he’s actually a really engaging guy – heck, he’s even pretty funny – and as badly as he wants to succeed, you can tell the that team’s performance last year bothered him. His early-season form bothered him. So, it wouldn’t surprise me if he took shorter money to rectify what happened last season.

  3. Chris B

    December 9, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks for the response Brian. I just remember in last year’s re-entry draft that the Revs had one week to make an offer to Cochrane and he signed immediately. Fred did not and came back to MLS after failing to find a club overseas and was (his MLS rights anyway) subsequently traded to DC United.

    I guess you have to take into account the fact Borman was selected in Stage One and since he is getting a higher salary I figured he would’ve officially signed by now but my understanding of what goes on behind the scenes in terms of contracts etc isn’t large enough for me to make any statements like that though; it must be a tough decision for him to make. The fact he apparently rejected a larger offer from TFC makes it even stranger…

  4. Brian O'Connell

    December 10, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Hey Chris – Looking back at the announcement of Cochrane and Fred’s selections in stage 2 of last year’s draft, you’re absolutely right – the Revs had a week to sign them. So, it looks like Borman and his agent will have to weigh their options fairly quickly.

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