Coming off their first playoff appearance since 2015, the New England Revolution open their season Saturday with the expectation of going beyond their one-and-done postseason, which ended with a first-round loss to Atlanta United.
The Revs rallied for that playoff berth under new coach and sporting director Bruce Arena, the former USMNT and veteran MLS coach who took over a team that had the worst record in MLS (2-8-2) before his hiring last May.
New England opens in Montreal against the Impact Saturday at 3 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston. They'll be without Carles Gil, MLS newcomer of the year last season who is recovering from a foot injury. Gil, who transferred from Spain's Deportivo La Coruña a year ago, helped fuel the Revs' turnaround last season with 10 goals and 14 assists.
Without Gil, Arena said a bigger playmaking role will fall to fellow Revs Designated Player Gustavo Bou (nine goals last season after his transfer from Club Tijuana in July) in the opener.
“[Carles] is an outstanding player and we can’t wait to have him back on the field,” Arena told reporters on Wednesday. “Gustavo Bou can play in a lot of positions on the field quite well. He’ll pick up the slack until Carles is ready.”
Making his MLS debut Saturday will be the Revs' third Designated Player, Polish striker Adam Buksa, 23, who signed on New Year's Eve.
"The six weeks [of training and preseason] were very important," Buksa told RevolutionSoccer.net, the team's website. "I got to know all the players, all the coaches, so I'm in a good spot right now. Now is the time for competing."
Arena said he'd like to avoid the kind of turnaround he helped engineer last season by starting the season stronger beginning Saturday.
"From what I can tell - I wasn't around for a lot of games [early] last year - but I can tell you that midway into the season, you don't want to have the worst record in the league. We want to get off to a much better start this year."
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Impact vs. Revolution, which begins Saturday at 3 p.m. followed by Revolution Postgame Live. You can also stream the game on the NBC Sports app.