Preview — The fact that Kekuta Manneh and Tommy McNamara didn’t mind up and moving to Boston in the middle of a pandemic and join the New England Revolution speaks volumes of the club’s direction under head coach Bruce Arena.
Both players, acquired by trades at the start of the week, took turns explaining their eagerness to work with Arena during a Zoom press conference Tuesday from Gillette Stadium.
“Obviously it’s a stressful time, especially with this current climate it’s not easy to move, but it comes with the job and the nature of what we do,” Manneh, a Gambian winger who joined the Revolution from FC Cincinnati, said. “I love to travel a lot, meet new people. This is another travel experience, another stop in my journey. When it came up New England was a no-brainer.”
McNamara, a New York native, spent the 2009-12 seasons with Brown University and also represented the Western Mass Pioneers (USL League 2) and the Worcester Hydra (PDL). He now returns to the New England area in the middle of his seventh MLS season after stints with Chivas USA, New York City FC and the Houston Dynamo.
“I’m very excited to be here, when I heard the news I was appreciative and excited,” McNamara said. “I believe the coach understands me as a player and understands players need to be put into spots that best suit their qualities.”
Where McNamara, Manneh slot in for the Revolution
Arena said Tuesday that neither player will be available for Thursday’s match against the Philadelphia Union at Gillette Stadium, citing the league’s 10-day quarantine policy for players joining new teams.
Once that restriction lifts, Manneh expects to mostly play left winger while McNamara prefers to tuck inside central midfield. Both players face plenty of competition in their positions for starting minutes.
“I’m very direct, I like to run at players and make things happen,” Manneh, who earned the nickname Scooter during his time with Vancouver Whitecaps FC, said. “I like to be creative and create goals, score goals.”
McNamara spoke to Arena by phone prior to his arrival and discussed how he fits into the team’s tactics.
“From the outside looking in, he’s a coach that gets a lot of his players. I’m looking forward to trying to take advantage of that,” McNamara said. “I want to integrate myself into the team as quickly as possible.
“I’m excited to play with the whole group. I watched a lot of New England in the MLS is Back Tournament and enjoyed how the team played. They want the ball and want players who can combine, create chances, and create goals.”
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) August 19, 2020
Transfer window open for New England
Arena wanted more attacking depth with midfielder Luis Caicedo and playmaker Carles Gil both out for the season. Enter the chance to sign Manneh and McNamara, who Arena monitored closely over the years.
While Arena left open the possibility to more transfers, an international transfer this summer is unlikely.
“In my opinion it’s not a smart move to bring in international players because of adjustments we have to make. It’s something we’ll do in the offseason, but not right now. It’s not compatible right now under current conditions,” he said.
“Prior to these trades…we were down to 15 senior roster field players,” Arena added. “It was important we added players to that. We’re not replacing like for like with Carles Gil , I don’t think that’s even possible . But certainly we needed to strengthen ourselves in the attacking part of the field.”