FOXBORO What a difference a year makes.
The New England Revolution enter the 2011 season with plenty of new faces, and it was confirmed at the teams media day Wednesday at Gillette Stadium that there are more bodies on the way.
Steve Nicols Revs squad opens the regular season on Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Galaxy. MLS roster sizes have increased from 24 to 30 in 2011. New England currently has 27 players on its roster, with 11 new faces for this season, including five new international players that were added in the offseason.
But both Revolution vice president of player personnel Mike Burns and Nicol confirmed at the teams annual media day that they are actively on the hunt for another striker.
We need more help up front, said Nicol on Wednesday. Thats no secret.
Theres only 24 hours in a day, and every one of those 24 hours, weve been talking to people, talking to agents, talking to players, trying to get things done. Weve been close on a couple of occasions. On one occasion, we thought we had it done.
We need another striker, definitely, added the Revs coach. Well do everything we possibly can to make that happen.
Either way, this years Revolution team is dealing with plenty of changes -- changes that Burns said were absolutely necessary after a disappointing 9-16-5 finish in 2010.
I think it goes without saying, but the underlying theme for me this offseason, has been change, in terms of both the league level and for us here on the Revs at a team level, said Burns on Wednesday.
I think with the season that we had last year, frankly, it was necessary, he said. And two, with the increased number of roster spots, that obviously factored into it as well.
Listen, I could sit up here and make a lot of excuses, but I will say this: In 2010, to have a Steve Ralston, a Jay Heaps, and a Taylor Twellman all retire in the same calendar year, without making excuses, that affects the team. No doubt about it, added Burns. It certainly affected us. That, coupled with the fact that we had nine wins last year, changes were a necessity, for sure.
Changes werent just made within the Revolution organization. They were also made throughout the league.
The 2011 season will include expansion teams in Vancouver and Portland. Both of those teams will be in the Western Conference, meaning the Houston Dynamo will join the Eastern Conference, in a conference re-alignment of sorts.
Playoffs will also include two more teams.
And the regular season increases from 30 to 34 games in 2011, meaning Revs fans will have two more opportunities to see their team at Gillette Stadium.
While at Gillette Stadium, fans will also notice some changes in the venues seating arrangement. There will be a new seating configuration in 2011 that will shorten the size of the sections by 10-15 rows, opening up the seats all around the bowl.
In the past, one entire side of the field was blocked off with a tarp, but that will no longer be the case, beginning with the teams first home game, a week from Saturday against D.C. United.
Also seeing a change in 2011 is the MLS minor league system, which will re-emerge this year. And according to Burns, it will be a good way for the Revolution coaching staff to look at all of the organizations players in a professional environment.
I think one of the big pluses of the reserve league, is the ability for us to use our academy players, said Burns. It makes it a little bit more professional. In the reserve league we had previously, the fact that we were able to call up players off the street, I dont think it really was as professionally done as it could have been.
Whether any of these changes work to help improve the Revolution from their 2010 season remains to be seen. New England captain Shalrie Joseph -- who called out the teams immaturity during last years struggles said on Wednesday that with all the new faces on the team, they still need some more time to get where they want to be.
To this day, we still dont know whos our starting 11, or whos going to be on the field, said Joseph. Thats what teams are about. Youve got to come in every day and work hard, and everybodys competing for those 11 spots. And once we decide whos going to be out there, then we can start working together.
Its definitely going to take some time for us to gel, and to get that team spirit, and that team unity youre going to need to be a good team in this league.
Its a new year. The Revolution hope all those changes make a difference sooner, rather than later.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.