Four days after he parted ways
with second-year head coach Brad Friedel, New England Revolution general manager Mike Burns (left in photo) was himself fired.
Burns had been with the Revs in one capacity or another for 20 of their 24 seasons. He grew up in the Boston area and played five of his eight pro seasons for the Revs. He moved into the front office as director of soccer in 2005, was appointed vice president of player personnel in 2009 and promoted to general manager in November 2011.
The Revs have struggled since reaching and losing in MLS Cup for a fifth time in 2014. They failed to make the playoffs for a third year in a row in 2018. Support has dwindled at Gillette Stadium and the commitment of the Kraft family, which has owned the Revs since MLS's launch in 1996, has been continually called into question.
Friedel's firing came after a string of four games when the Revs conceded 18 goals -- 3-0, 6-1 and 5-0 losses and 4-4 tie -- to tie an MLS record for most goals allowed in four games.
“I just feel that recently over the last, you know, three, four or five games, the performances and the results were more non-competitive than competitive,” Burns said in explaining Friedel's firing. “We feel that we have a better team and a better roster than what the results have previously shown.”
Burns said owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft and Revs president Brian Bilello also took part in the decision to fire Friedel, Burns' former roommate on the U.S. national team.
The Revs have become one of the most unpopular destinations for MLS players, and they struggled to sign players. They have only one player on a Designated Player contract -- Spaniard Carles Gil -- after a deal to sign winger Paul-Jose M'Poku from Belgian club Standard Liege fell through on the eve of last week's closing of the primary transfer window.
Fully expect Bruce Arena to be named in at least one capacity if not BOTH capacities of GM/Coach for #NERevs this week. Stay tuned. #MLS— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) May 13, 2019
After Friedel was fired, Revs supporters group the Midnight Riders issued a statement calling for someone other than Burns to hire the coaching staff and rebuild the roster.
“I've been part of this club for a long time," said Burns when asked about his future with the Revs, "and whether I was a player or whether I've worked in the front office, or any job that I've ever had, I've never talked publicly about my own employment status. And I won't be starting today.”
Nor did he address the criticism addressed his way when he met briefly with the media last Friday.
“I look at my tenure over the 15 years I’ve worked in the front office," he said. "We’ve had lot of positive moments and certainly some downturns as well. I think I have a job as the general manager that is second-guessed. Obviously, there are a lot people in the media and fans that have opinions, both positive and negative. To comment on any comments that are made, I think, isn’t appropriate for me. For my tenure at this club, and anything I’ve ever done, I’ve given everything I’ve had and will continue to do so.”
In announcing Burns' departure, Bilello praised him as a "terrific ambassador for the club."
“In light of recent results and the team’s on-field direction over the last few seasons," Bilello said, "we felt it was time to take the soccer side of the organization in a different direction. We expect to make an announcement related to leadership of the soccer organization in the coming days.”
On Saturday, the Revs went out under interim coach Mike Lapper and beat the San Jose Earthquakes, 3-1. Their next game is Wednesday, a charity match against Europa League finalist Chelsea.
Photo: New England Revolution
Havng experienced Kraft ownership at San Jose, I must say the real problem at New England, is not the staff, but the ownership.
Sorry to see anyone lose their job, but change has been needed for years. What ever model they followed failed.
Krafts are putting money into the training fields, and with MLS now looking to get payment for developing players - I am hoping that real investment will happen. We can only hope for a SSS in greater Boston, but as we see in NY development at this level is never easy.
Burns is only part of the problem - Boston is a good sports market and when the Revs where competing and doing well there was excitement, but that has not been happening for years.
If Revs/Kraft's pull in Bruce Arena that will be a good indicator that they are serious about the soccer team. Need to change the culture within the NER orginization and that does not come from someone within the org, but an outsider that understands how to build a solid orginization.
Hoping that the Kraft's spend some of the expansion fee money they are getting on the team!
Coaching staff is either good or bad; bad ownership will make anyone look bad.Kraft et al can be at every game, it's the support and plan that matters most.
The Revs will never be an actual professional soccer team until they can develop an ADULT fan base. So much of the marketing has been directed at youth players and kids- e.g. Dunkin Donuts Kids night, Mass Youth Soccer Day, etc. Except for the Midnight Riders supporters group, most fans at the games are kids and their parents. Look at Portland, Atlanta, Seattle, etc. They fill their stadiums with passionalte adult fans.
But the real problem is the Krafts. They are outstanding NFL owners but probably the worst in MLS. They need to put a soccer specific stadium in the city or close to it that is accessible by public transportation. I realize they are dealing with the famous Boston "Can't Do Spirit" but if anyone could make it happen it is the Krafts. There is a huge fan base here that just hates making the trip to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, which is depressing when there are only 10-12000 spectators at the game. The best way to understand ownership is that a few years ago the Revs were in the MLS Championship game in LA. The same day the Pats were playing a regular season game in San Diego. Neither Robert nor his son Jonathan made the trip to see their soccer team. Tells you all you need to know.
Dave he was at that game,I saw him with the Galaxy owner after the game. Then later saw his helicopter leaving for san Diego. He was wearing a suit with tennis shoes. I was at that game and he was there too.