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.
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