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Brad Friedel faces daunting task with Revs job

The New England Revolution have taken a risk by hiring Brad Friedel. It’s a calculated risk, for sure, but a risk nonetheless. It’s a move with a number of ramifications and challenges, especially as MLS continues to evolve and teams like the Revs appear to be falling further and further behind.

After reports broke earlier this week that Friedel was set for the head coaching gig, the Revs confirmed the appointment of former U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper on Thursday. Friedel now steps into his first professional job after previously working as a coach within the U.S. Soccer youth system.

In many ways, Friedel has been preparing for this moment for quite some time. The goalkeeper began his coaching training while still playing in Europe and instantly jumped into the U.S. Soccer system alongside broadcasting duties with Fox. He’s certainly been around the game and worked with several up-and-coming players throughout the country in the years since retiring from his own playing career.

When it comes to his on field credentials, few, if any, Americans can match Friedel. He put together what might just be the most successful European career of any American, making stops in England, Turkey and Denmark along the way. He’s worked under managers like Mauricio Pochettino, Graeme Souness and Gerard Houllier while also representing the USMNT from 1992-05. Friedel has came into contact with a lot of very good soccer minds throughout his career, and he certainly saw what worked and didn’t work during his extended battles throughout the English system.

Still, despite it all, Friedel is still set for his first ever professional coaching job. That requires a major adjustment period and a major amount of learning on the job, especially in MLS. The league has chewed up and spit out plenty of great soccer minds. Ask Ruud Gullit if an extended playing career leads to MLS success.

With the Revs, Friedel will face an especially big challenge. On the defensive end, the Revs have had trouble for quite some time. Since the team’s MLS Cup run in 2014, their defense has never looked solid and has almost always been one of the team’s major downfalls. Money has been spent in the wrong places and the pieces brought in have never lived up to expectations.

The good news? Friedel made a career of organizing defenses from the goalkeeper position. It remains to be seen what pieces he’ll have to work with, but he enters with plenty of experience in managing defenders and helping to put them in places to succeed.

The attack is a whole other issue, one that will probably require help from the front office. The Revs have an absolute logjam atop the field with a bunch of very talented pieces that very clearly don’t go together. It’s part of what led to the downfall of Jay Heaps, who was never truly able to put those pieces together to form anything coherent.

Heaps, like Friedel, was an inexperienced hire. He guided the Revs to the 2014 MLS Cup Final before the wheels fell off in the years since. Now three years later, they still do have several talented pieces in place but someone will have to manage them.

That guy is Friedel, who steps into a job that is suddenly one of the more difficult ones in MLS. The Revs will never open the checkbooks like Toronto FC or Atlanta United and they certainly don’t have the youth pipeline of teams like the New York Red Bulls or FC Dallas. For now, they’re stuck in the middle, and that’s not really where you want to be.

To succeed, Friedel will need to find some sort of cohesive defense, find a way to get the best out of a sputtering attack and develop some sort of youth along the way. It’s a daunting task for a manager that’s never been on this merry-go-round before, one that will require every bit of experience picked up throughout Friedel’s playing career.


  1. Goalies do not organize defenses. They just yell at the defenders to cover whomever they think. Get real! He comes in with NO experience into a downward trending situation . His commentary on TV shows he is tactically unaware and seems to parrot the old English ” He went down easily ” nonsense. Maybe the worst thing an aspiring coach can do is play and coach in England. England is a relegation league at its worst and demands a level of survival which is not what the US league and players need. they need a teaching coach which by definition he is not, at the moment. I wish him well and hope he is the fastest learner in the history of US soccer.

  2. Most Revs fan can tell you what the main problem Friedel will face and I will say it here. Maybe some of you will get to read it before it gets deleted by who ever watches the responses

    Friedel, like Heaps before him, will be given little to work with. The Revs front office will not spend the money necessary to field a competitive team. It has always been the case and it’s the coaches. The Revs had a couple of good years for one reason only. They got Jones based on a coin flip. He carried the team on his back and it had little to do with Heaps. With no Jones… missed.

    If Friedel is smart, hopefully this lack of support has been delt with. We’ll see. I have my doubts since the main problems are still employed

  3. He can help, but the Kraft family has to help him. The Revs defense has never been the same since AJ Soares went to play in Europe. Team needs some quality at each of the defensive positions and also they need a real no. 6 to free up Nguyen. They may have to trade either Teal, Juan or Kai Kamara to get the type of quality they need to turn things around.

    • Agreed, + trade Agudelo, Rowe or keep those as substitute/bench ONLY. I never trust those players. Agudelo, he makes every f..k ball complicated, he will never change. Rowe like Yeldin never plays with heart/compassion same as Teal and Kai Kamara. Their center defense is garbage defense. 2017 season- only 2 player of NE Rev. have B+ are Nguyen and Diego.

  4. hello, friedel is like schmid, arena, vermes, keller. he is one of our greatest minds. we really need his soccer brain, we should cherish him and respect him.

    • surround him with good people. let some brainiac college interns feed him analytics. let friedel steer the ship. it’ll work out.


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