New England Revolution

Bruce Arena admits CCL clash against Pumas UNAM will be a 'real challenge'

Lizzy Becherano
Bruce Arena admits CCL clash against Pumas will be a challenge
Bruce Arena admits CCL clash against Pumas will be a challenge / Emilee Chinn/GettyImages

The New England Revolution will make their first Concacaf Champions League appearance since 2008 on Wednesday when facing Liga MX's Pumas UNAM at Gillette Stadium.

The Major League Soccer side automatically advanced to the quarter finals after round of 16 opponent Cavaly forfeited due to visa issues.  

The Revolution joins the Seattle Sounders, New York City FC and CF Montreal at this stage of the international competition. The Eastern Conference giants, however, stand as the MLS side with the least international experience remaining in the competition. 

“For our team, this is certainly a challenge,” coach Bruce Arena said in a virtual press availability.

"We aren’t a team with a lot of experience with games at the international level. So, this will be a real challenge. The different style of opponent, different officiating, things that we're not used to, it'll be interesting to see how players are able to adjust and try to be successful tomorrow.

“It's important for any of the MLS clubs to have these opportunities and to see how our league sizes up in Concacaf, and certainly, for this franchise that has had very few opportunities at this level, I think it's an important game for our club."

Veteran player Omar Gonzalez echoed Arena’s thoughts, warning his teammates of the daunting challenges that international tournaments bring about. 

"For the guys who have the lack of experience, they're going to get it tomorrow," Gonzalez said.

 "So, they shouldn't be timid, they should go out and play as if it's just another game. Of course, there's more on the line, but like I said earlier, we have a lot of quality and so we have to bring the game to them. We have to be the protagonist.”

The team will also go into Wednesday’s match without star goalkeeper Matt Turner, as he recovers from a “foot/ankle” injury on the sidelines. 

The weather is also set to play a part in the challenging clash, with snow featuring in the forecast. Arena and Gonzalez agreed, however, that the climate could be an advantage for New England should they capitalize on the opportunity. 

"The snow, the circumstances are going to be for both teams," Gonzalez said. 

"For us, can we have that mentality of just 'So what? Who cares if this is happening, who cares if it's snowing, if it's hailing or whatever.' We still have to play the game. The other team has to go through it too. So, can we have that strong mentality of it doesn't matter what's happening, we're going to come at you with all we've got?"