FOXBOROUGH — Many people speak of “The Arena Effect” when they talk about the Revolution’s recent turnaround, and that’s a fair assessment. Wherever Bruce Arena goes, it feels like he waves a magic wand and makes problem areas go away. He did it with the Galaxy in 2008, he did it with the Red Bulls. Hell, he had the first dynasty in DC United when Major League Soccer began in the mid-1990s.
Ever since Arena took over in the technical area on June 2, the Revolution have played freer football and with more purpose than they had during the Brad Friedel Era. One can point to seeing Arena in the Gillette Stadium sky views on May 25, scribbling notes about the way the team played and how the individual players had performed, then taking those ideas and applying them over the last seven weeks.
“I'm just coaching the way I coach teams,” Arena said Thursday morning. “It's evaluation of players, understanding — once you see them and training and get a better feel for them — what they do well, don't do well. And then you try to obviously piece together combinations that makes sense on the field. And you bring a group of players into a collective unit at some point.”
One player who has undergone a transformation under Arena in some ways is longtime club servant Juan Agudelo. The Barnegat, N.J. native has long been an attacking-minded player — 46 goals and 21 assists in his MLS career, across three clubs over the last nine years — as either a striker or playing out on the wing, but he has since started to see time in the midfield, yet more as a defensive-minded player, the No. 8, set up to slow the opposing attack.