Not only does the Revolution have a major honour to their name at the senior level, but they also are succeeding at the youth levels. Jack Panayotou found the back of the net against the San Francisco Glens to seal the U19 Championship title. Panayotou is one of a few Revs players who lit it up but the focus isn’t around this honour. Following this, Technical Director Curt Onalfo spoke to the New England press.
Curt Onalfo Talks to the Press Following the U19 Championship Win
About Curt Onalfo and Bruce Arena Changing the Landscape
Curt Onalfo coached with a number of different organisations and has had links to Bruce Arena for a number of years. The pair are now in place with the Revs having arrived in Massachusetts in 2019. In Onalfo’s words, “Everything in our organization starts with Bruce Arena” and that bred success with last year’s Supporters’ Shield.
“First and foremost, we wanted to bring that winning mentality not only to the first team but to the second team and also to our academy.” This is evident once again in the growing glory from top to bottom. The Revolution may not boast the most illustrious history, especially given that they are one of the MLS originals, but the changes have been put in place by Curt Onalfo and co.
Put it in the Louvre 🤩 pic.twitter.com/gRiq4gPr44
— New England Revolution Academy (@NERevsAcademy) July 4, 2022
The technical director spoke about the backing they receive from the hierarchy: “It starts with Brian Bilello and the Krafts. The Krafts obviously are who they are, and they’ve created a winning organization with the New England Patriots.” Not many MLS franchises can point to a strong connection with one of the best sports teams in the history of US sport like the Revs can with the Patriots.
Investment has grown year on year and this is primed with the recent transfer dealings. Matt Turner, Tajon Buchanan and Adam Buksa have all been sold for good money with Djordje Petrovic, Dylan Borrero and Giacomo Vrioni being brought in to replace them. The latter trio are all young themselves and will surely demand a decent fee in a year or two. Curt Onalfo alluded to the system that allows this to take place: “We have support all the way through, and that makes us work real hard and try to continue to strive for excellence.”
How to Identify Talent
In his role as technical director, Curt Onalfo is tasked with signing players at levels for the Revs. An insight we very rarely get is into how this process works and what they are looking out for. “Usually, they’re exceptional in something… A lot of the time’s its athleticism” is what the Revolution man pointed out about younger players who are still unrefined and raw in a lot of ways.
One specific example from Onalfo of the value of youth development was as follows: “If you look at a player like Damian Rivera, who is a Homegrown Player for our first team, at his age , if he is from Uruguay or Argentina, he’s a player that would be purchased in our league for three-to-five million dollars.” Tico has burst onto the scene this year, scoring just seconds into his first start for the team against Inter Miami.
‼️ TICO TIME ‼️
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) April 30, 2022
“Kudos to MLS NEXT, it’s been excellent. We spend a lot of resources on traveling around the country, we play a ton of MLS opponents, and there’s never an easy game, especially in the region that we’re in, which makes us better.”
Selling the brand of a club to potential signings is huge and Onalfo highlighted the struggles that were faced when he first arrived in Boston. “When we first got in, we didn’t necessarily get the best players in the community into our program and to me, that was a little bit of a warning sign that we had to get better.” Looking elsewhere across the league and there are a number of teams who’re very well tapped into their community. FC Dallas is a prime example of this, the likes of Ricardo Pepi and Weston McKennie have gone on to big things from there whilst Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira are the current hot prospects.
When posed the question of what can take place going forward to further the growth in New England. “I just want to do more of what we just did this past Sunday. I mean, it was euphoria. You set a task, that’s the goal, right? You want to develop players, but you also want to develop this winning culture.” To have a youth team winning a major honour less than a year after the first team broke the regular-season points record is evidence of a very promising project.
The club and organisation are in good hands from Bruce Arena to Curt Onalfo and everyone else behind the scenes.