More than two decades into his coaching career and more than four decades into his professional footballing life, New England Revolution, goalkeeper coach Kevin Hitchcock has mentored his fair share of elite shot stoppers. Since arriving in Foxborough five seasons ago in 2019, the former Chelsea backstop has helped mold two consecutive Revs goalkeepers into Premier League-caliber starters.
The London native joined DJ Bean on “The Soccer Show” to debrief on the Revolution’s goalkeeper situation for the remainder of the season, his approach as a coach, and his relationship with players past and present.
“You build a relationship and they’re like family to me,” Hitchcock said of the unbreakable bond he holds with his goalkeepers. “They’re asking my opinion, which I really appreciate, and I will look after them as much as I will my own son.”
During his time in New England, the 60-year-old has mentored his goalkeepers to three consecutive finishes in the top two of MLS Goalkeeper of the Year voting, first with Matt Turner in 2020 and 2021, followed by Petrović’s last season. In addition, both players have earned national team call-ups from their respective nations, with Turner earning the starting job for the United States at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. For Hitchcock, seeing his young protégés blossom at the highest levels of the game gives him pride, and it is also what he was brought to New England to do.
“It gives me more confidence in what I am doing,” Hitchcock said. “Yes, I have worked in the Premier League for a long time, and I do know what the goalkeepers standards are like in the Premier League.”
Only one year after Turner departed for Arsenal FC, the Revolution are once again facing turnover between the posts as Djordje Petrović completed his move to Chelsea FC, yielding the Revolution an MLS-record fee for a goalkeeper. With the subsequent signing of Czech Republic international goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík, there will be intense competition for the starting position as the playoff race heats up.
But for now, goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. remains the number one option and eyes a third consecutive start tonight as the Revolution host Austin FC at Gillette Stadium.
“He [Edwards Jr.] is a fantastic teammate,” Hitchcock said. “He’s no different from a Brad Knighton. He sees the players coming in and performing week in and week out, and he knows he has to be patient, and his time is ready to come.”
Edwards Jr. was re-signed to a new one-year contract for the 2024 MLS season this past week, and then earned his first MLS clean sheet of the season in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over New York Red Bulls.
“He’s a calming influence in the locker room with players,” Hitchcock said of the MLS veteran. “He’s a calming influence at games. He’s going to come in and stem the tide for us. The shirt is his at the moment, so he wants to stay there as long as possible.”
Watch the Revolution take on Austin FC tonight at 7:30 p.m. on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. Listen live on 98.5 The Sports Hub with Brad Feldman and Charlie Davies calling the action.