Revolution gearing up for MLS preseason opener

Foxborough MA 9/29/19 New England Revolution head coach Bruce Arena before they play the New York City FC at Gillette Stadium. (photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) topic: reporter:
Bruce Arena’s Revolution open the preseason schedule against the Galaxy, who Arena guided to MLS Cup titles in 2011, ’12, and ’14.

Revolution coach Bruce Arena got a head start on the team’s preseason visit to Los Angeles, traveling to his former residence this week while his players worked out in Foxborough under the direction of assistant Richie Williams.

The Revolution are scheduled to depart Friday in preparation for their preseason opener against the Galaxy Feb. 10, a reunion for Arena, who guided the Galaxy to MLS Cup titles in 2011, ’12, and ’14.

The game could also provide a reuniting of Revolution left back Alex Buttner and the Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, teammates with Manchester United from 2012-14.


Buttner and Hernandez developed a positive relationship early on. When Buttner made his United debut, in a 4-0 win over Wigan at Old Trafford, he assisted on a Hernandez conversion and scored the Red Devils’ third goal.

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“He is a great player,” Buttner said of Hernandez. “He’s really big in Mexico, but not only in Mexico. He’s a great striker. I know if I cross the ball, give him the ball, he will score.

“I remember that game because I scored myself and gave a pass to him, a cross, on the ground. Like for everyone, the first game I was a little bit nervous. But after five minutes it starts to be normal. We had a great team, most of the time we had the ball we had an attacking deployment. I played really good and I was Man of the Match. I think it’s a dream debut.”

Buttner, 30, performed mostly as a backup to captain Patrice Evra as United won the Premier League in 2012-13, then became a full-time starter at Dynamo Moscow, Anderlecht, and Vitesse Arnhem. In 2016-17, he was suspended while with Vitesse, reportedly because he exceeded a body fat limit imposed by the club.

“Some things happened and I already forget about that,” Buttner said. “I was really quick back in the team. Yeah, I don’t speak about it, because all the people and the papers, they speak about it and don’t know. Only I know what happened and the coach knows. So we keep it like that.”


Buttner will be encountering several ex-teammates this season. From his Dutch days, there are Guram Kashia and Vako Qazaishvili (San Jose); goalkeeper Eloy Room and Vito Woormgoor (Columbus); Kelvin Leerdam (Seattle); and Maikel van der Werff (Cincinnati); plus, former Manchester United winger Nani (Orlando City).

Buttner started his career at Ajax and has stayed in touch with former Ajax star Frank de Boer, who coached Atlanta United to a 1-0 win over the Revolution in the playoffs last year. Buttner said he would welcome a Revolution-Atlanta postseason rematch.

“I cannot wait to play against him and meet him again,” Buttner said of de Boer. “You have to think, always, you can beat him. You have to have the confidence to beat the other team. So, we will see.

“We have a lot of new guys, but I have to say these couple weeks we’ve trained good. Now we have to learn each other a little bit better and how everyone plays. But so far we’ve been doing very well.”

Instant connection

Last season, after the Revolution’s Carles Gil was named MLS Newcomer of the Year, he noted the fortuitousness of Gustavo Bou’s late arrival: “I’m lucky because if he got here earlier he would’ve fought me for this award.”


Instead, after Bou joined the Revolution in July, he forged an immediate connection with Gil. Bou hit the turf running, converting a spectacular volley off a Gil corner kick in his debut, the opening score in a 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps at Gillette Stadium. Bou totaled nine goals in 14 games, but things ended on a down note in the playoffs.

“It was a battle on a difficult field,” Bou recalled of the loss at Atlanta in the first round. “We played them even, we were playing well, then they scored the goal. And we tried to tie it but couldn’t.

“But I’m happy for the [comeback] the team had at the end of the season. We qualified for the last playoff spot, and we earned it. But this year we are going to try to do much better.”

Bou fulfilled expectations after earning a $6.7 million transfer fee from Club Tijuana, by far the highest payout the Revolution have made for a player.

Most of Bou’s Revolution experience involved learning about teammates on the fly, and now he is savoring the chance to go through a preseason with the team.

Asked if he can match last season’s strike rate, Bou replied: “I hope I can, that’s what I’m working for. It started out well last year and now it’s a new season. I’m starting at the beginning, and my goal is to repeat what I did last year, only better.”

Bou will combine with Polish striker Adam Buksa, who is expected to provide a back-to-goal point of reference and finishing threat.

“I’m content with my teammates and the reinforcements they brought in,” Bou said. “The idea is to integrate everyone as quickly as possible. We’re focused on this and we’re working to make it easy for them. You really have to adapt to your teammates and develop chemistry and do what you need to do to work together as forwards, work this connection, and take advantage of each other’s strengths.”

Hotspur hot streak

Tottenham has not won a trophy since 2008, when it captured the League Cup with a 2-1 extra-time win over Chelsea — a team that had been managed by Jose Mourinho five months previously.

Now, Tottenham could be on a path toward a title under Mourinho’s guidance. Heung-min Son’s 87th-minute penalty kick gave Spurs a 3-2 victory over Southampton in the FA Cup Wednesday, leaving them three games away from the final. Tottenham will meet Norwich in a home match in the fifth round next month.