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Mike Burns talks player turnover, transfers, and scouting

Posted by Julian Cardillo  July 10, 2013 10:44 PM

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(revolutionsoccer.net)

Central and South American players tend to not stay with the Revolution for a very long time. Revolution General Manager Mike Burns has looked at Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia in both the Steve Nicol and Jay Heaps Head Coaching eras, but hasn't signed players from those locales that stick around long enough to become part of a team nucleus.

Milton Caraglio, the club's first ever Designated Player, got called up to an Argentina national team camp by Diego Maradona and signed with Serie A's Pescara last December, though he only lasted a few months with the Revolution in 2011.

Colombians John Lozano, Jose Moreno, and Fernando Cardenas didn't make a lasting impression last season, and remained in New England for less than a year. So too did Argentine defender Franco Coria, Mexican forward Jose Manuel Abundis, and Costa Rican forward Argenis Fernandez for their respective stints with the club.

That Caraglio has such a résumé is proof that he could have been a quality signing. The rest of these players, and others like them, were also supposed to do well with the Revolution but just didn't pan out.

"We'll continue to look in those areas," said Burns at training on Wednesday when asked about the high turnover of Central and South American players.

"We'd all like to go shopping in the Premier League, or Serie A, or La Liga. That's not realistic right now. By and large, there's more economic value in some parts of Central America, for sure. A lot of those players want to come to MLS."

Burns and the Revolution shouldn't discount looking at Central and South America, though they need to figure out what exactly isn't working with that group of players and fix it.

Even on the Revolution's current team, which has a strong core for the first time since 2009, internationals from Central and South America are on the fringe. Honduran forward Jerry Bengston and Colombian midfielder Juan Toja have had little effect on the team this season.

The exception is Juan Agudelo, who was born in Colombia. He's been an integral part of the offense since joining the Revolution in May from CD Chivas USA. But he represents the US, not Colombia, so he's not in the same boat as Bengston or Toja.

Uruguayan players appear to be the another exception. Two of the best players to ever put on a Revolution uniform are Uruguayan. One is Jose Cancela, who stuck with the Revolution from 2003 to 2007 and tallied 27 assists and 7 goals in 95 games. The other is Diego Fagundez, who was signed as a homegrown player, and who, like Agudelo, has been a key part of the Revolution's offense this season.

Burns is open to looking at Uruguay for more players, though Fagundez isn't his reason.

"Diego is completely different in the sense that he moved here when he was four. When you're four you don't know your first four years of your life. We look at him more as a homegrown guy than an international even though he has international status."

While Fagundez may have moved to Leominster, Mass at a young age, there's no doubt that he plays like a Uruguayan player. His technical and creative ability on the ball is simply different than that shown by American players. What's more, he's played for the Uruguay U-20 team and has aspirations to represent the senior team.

The Revolution are two for two with Uruguayans. It's already an up and coming scouting ground worldwide, given the country's recent fourth place finish at the Confederations Cup and their performance at the last World Cup.

"That's a place that we have looked and will continue to look as well," added Burns.

The Revolution's scouting network will eventually need to be upgraded too. As of now, the scouting department is composed of Burns, Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps, and Assistant Coaches Jay Miller and Remy Roy. That needs to change, not only to compete for players internationally but also to progress with the rapidly evolving MLS.

"There are some teams in the league that have a full-time scout," said Burns. "It's not a norm across the league. I think in the next five, to ten, to 15 years you're going to see teams have a full-time scout."

In the short term, the Revolution are always looking for ways to make the team stronger. The club has brought in a slew of trialists over the last few weeks and could make a move during this transfer window.

"I wouldn't say anything is imminent in the next few days," explained Burns. "We're still looking at guys and it's important to see if we want to bring in a guy, or two."

"There's a few guys that are on our radar, for sure. Some that we've had [with us], some that we haven't. For this specific window, we're looking to add players but we're not looking to add a player just to add a player. If there's a player there we think will help us the second half of the year then we will absolutely do it. We have the flexibility to do so."

The international rumor mill has also signaled the potential departures of at least three Revolution players. Both Kalifa Cisse and Saer Sene are attracting interest from abroad. Cisse is currently linked with numerous teams in the English League Championship while Sene is being looked at by France's Sochaux. New FC Sion coach Michel Decastel has also said that he wants Jose Goncalves, who is with New England on loan, back in the Swiss league next year.

But Burns isn't nervous.

"More often than not, there's not a lot of truth in that," said Burns. "That's why they're called rumors. If and when it becomes real on any player on our team, that's the time to talk about it."

You can reach Julian at julianccardillo@gmail.com and follow him on twitter @juliancardillo

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Corner Kicks: Julian Cardillo offers insight and analysis about the New England Revolution as well as European and international soccer.

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