Gustavo Bou had a bitter taste in his mouth when the MLS season ended for the New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference championship match.
“The goal is the same, reaching the playoffs,” Bou said from Los Angeles, where the Revolution are conducting preseason training camp with a series of matches. “This year, the objective is to finish a little closer to the top seeds. Last year and the year before, we made the playoffs, which was good, but we were the No. 8 seed.
“That makes things a little more difficult with going on the road,” he added. “Hopefully, God willing, this year we can prepare ourselves in the best way to reach the playoffs, and our first objective is to classify as one of the top seeds.”
The 31-year-old forward and native of Argentina begins his third MLS season with New England. The Revolution signed him in July of 2019 from the Mexican League’s Club Tijuana. Since then, Bou has scored 14 goals over the span of 32 regular-season matches. In two seasons of MLS Cup play and five matches, Bou has scored three goals. Notably, New England is unbeaten (10-0-6) when Bou scores a goal.
“The expectations are high,” Bou said after a month of training. “We wanted to win it all last year. It was important for us in terms of confidence. It’s important for us to start this season on a good note. We know we need to keep improving. We need to continue working with the new guys and competing to the best the team we can be on the field.”
Prior to arriving in Foxboro, Bou had a 12-year pro career in Ecuador, Mexico and Argentina, collecting 85 goals and 35 assists over 270 competitions.
Bou has also been a bit wide-eyed at the number and quality of additions to the roster that New England Revolution coach Bruce Arena brought to New England.
“Very good, they’re adapting themselves,” Bou said of his new teammates.
“All in all, we’re training very well.” Bou added. “I’m very content and very happy. The new guys intensify the competition on our team, which is very good, and we’re preparing ourselves in the best way possible for the new season.”
The COVID-19-abbreviated 2019 MLS season and restricted offseason training was unusual for Bou. It was also unique for him in that he remained in New England instead of heading back to Argentina due to travel restrictions.
“Honestly, it was a nice experience,” Bou said of familiarizing himself with snow and tricky driving conditions. “It was my first time spending the offseason during the winter. It was very cold, but I enjoyed it. It was a different experience. I’m very comfortable here in the city.
“We (Revolution players) stayed in touch, seeing how everyone was doing. We missed being here. We knew it was a long offseason. Personally, I’ve never had an offseason this long, but it was good, good vibes.”
Bou was the first player signed by then-new coach Arena, a “designated player” due to his international status, and was No. 5 in the balloting at his first season’s end for the MLS Newcomer of the Year award.
“I think that between all of us we try to be leaders and lead the team in the best way,” Bou said of his veteran’s influence. “We all try to lead the best, in the best way, and to help one another. I think the most important thing is working as a team.
“I’m happy to be here and I’m happy with my teammates. We all try to guide the team the best way we can.”
Bou expects more of himself, being familiar with Foxboro, the Revolution and MLS.
“I’m trying to be closer to the area and team up with Adam (Buksa) closer to the net,” Bou said. “Hopefully, I can incorporate that this preseason and continue my game.
“My characteristics are the same, but it’s always good to implement things that we’re practicing, and hopefully we can see them on the field.
“I feel very comfortable anywhere up top,” Bou said of his attacking nature, embracing the chemistry with Teal Bunbury and Adam Buksa on the front wall and midfielder Carles Gil.
“Obviously, my characteristics indicate that I like to play as the second forward, because I like touching the ball. I also know that I’m a forward and forwards live on goals.”