‘It’s been a difficult few days and weeks’: Revolution president Brian Bilello discusses another coaching change

New England Revolution

Revolution leadership addressed the team’s second coaching change in less than a week.

Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe
New England Revolution president Brian Bilello stood by management’s relationship with the players.

Less than a day after abruptly removing interim head coach Richie Williams — and less than a week after Bruce Arena’s resignation following a prolonged MLS investigation — Revolution management addressed the media again on Wednesday to account for the tumultuous period that the club has experienced.

“It’s been a difficult few days and weeks for our club,” said team president Brian Bilello.

Asked about Williams’s status following his removal from the interim head coaching role (he was replaced by former Revolution II head coach Clint Peay), Bilello explained that Arena’s longtime assistant remains with the Revolution for the time being.

“Richie Williams is a valuable member of our organization, and he remains with the organization,” said Bilello, who also noted that Williams was offered “some time off during this window.”

“In terms of his role with the club, I don’t have anything to share today,” Bilello added.

Pressed about why the team made its second coaching change less than 72 hours after Arena resigned, technical director Curt Onalfo gave a non-specific response.

“Sometimes when you’re in these positions, you need to be very clear about what you want to do, and sometimes you need to make changes,” said Onalfo. “With all the experience that I have doing this, it was clear to me that we had to make changes that would allow us to be the most successful version of ourselves.”

Bilello clarified later that neither Williams, nor Onalfo (who has served as interim sporting director since Arena was first placed on administrative leave in August) were promised those roles for the remainder of the season.

Asked about reports of internal strife at the club, derived from a lack of transparency surrounding the investigation and resignation of Arena — the league “confirmed” allegations of him making “insensitive and inappropriate remarks” but has not released the results of its report — Bilello stood by his rapport with the players.

“I have a great relationship with the players,” he said. “I think Curt has a great relationship with the players. It’s been a very difficult time for all of us. There was a lot of uncertainty around the club, but I’ve always tried to maintain a strong relationship. I have conversations with the group, with players one-on-one and with small groups. And there was some of that, of course, yesterday. But I would characterize the relationship between myself and the staff we have here with the players as very strong and very good.”

Regarding conflicting reports about why the team didn’t train on Tuesday — and whether or not it was a case of players refusing to train — Onalfo stood by Williams’s assertion on Tuesday that it was a “collective’ decision.

“Yesterday was a very long day for our club,” Onalfo explained. “We had meetings that lasted for hours that were very productive, and at the end of it all, we just collectively decided mutually that it didn’t make sense to go out in the field.”

On the subject of assistant coaches Dave van den Bergh and Shalrie Joseph, both of whom were out after Tuesday’s changes, Onalfo simply said that the team had “mutually parted ways.”


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