The 2023 season has seen a revolving door of players on the backline for the New England Revolution, but there has been one constant: center back Dave Romney. Acquired from Nashville SC in the winter, the California native immediately established himself as a cornerstone of the Revolution defense and has played every minute for New England during the MLS and Leagues Cup campaign.
Romney, who recently became a first-time father to twin girls in August, joined D.J. Bean on “The Soccer Show” to discuss building relationships with a rotating cast of characters alongside him, the departure of Djordje Petrović to the Premier League, and comparisons between Lionel Messi and another notable former teammate of his with the LA Galaxy.
“I’ve been thankful that I’ve been healthy throughout this whole season,” Romney said. “Honestly, everyone who has stepped in has done a really good job. It’s been easy to play around all of these guys, so I haven’t really had any complaints from my end.”
For the last four seasons, Romney has established himself as one of the league’s true ironmen with 10,025 minutes played and 112 league starts since the start of 2020, both the most among all MLS outfield players. In that same period, Romney has contributed to 37 clean sheets, second most among all non-goalkeepers.
His arrival in New England has stabilized a backline that has allowed the sixth-fewest goals against (31) leaguewide in 2023, an improvement after the Revs allowed 50 goals a year ago. While Romney has played a major part in New England’s defensive turnaround, goalkeeper Djordje Petrović was the headliner. With the Serbian now installed at Chelsea FC in the English Premier League, Romney told DJ Bean that the transition has been smooth for the defensive unit.
“It’s not like when we were playing with Djordje, we were like, ‘Oh, we can just give up shots,’” Romney said of the change at goalkeeper. “You’re trying to limit every single chance possible, so I don’t think anything from our end has changed necessarily defensively. And then offensively, Earl [Edwards Jr.] is really comfortable with his feet, so it’s nice to kind of play out with him.
“I wouldn’t say the goalkeeper change has necessarily changed our thought process defensively or the way we defend certain teams. But yeah, any team would miss Djordje.”
As MLS enters nears its thrilling conclusion, the biggest story across the league has been the arrival of Lionel Messi at Inter Miami. Messi has made an immediate impact, leading the last-place Herons to a Leagues Cup crown and now attempting to help Miami climb above the playoff line.
Prior to Messi, a few big-name stars from Europe have made the foray into MLS, including David Beckham, Andrea Pirlo, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Romney’s former teammate at LA Galaxy. Reminiscing about the early part of his career, Romney learned a lot from playing with Ibrahimovic.
“On the field, as somebody who was watching soccer growing up and seeing the kind of goals he [Ibrahimovic] scored, and then just seeing them in person, it really kind of puts things into perspective how much of a freak athlete this guy was,” said Romney. “I respected him a lot. I mean, the amount that he’s accomplished on the field, I couldn’t hold a candle to his career. Off the field, he was a very smart, very sharp guy. On the field, he was definitely demanding but it’s probably tough not to be when you’re that much better.”
New England has already finished its regular season series with Inter Miami, but Romney and his teammates are excited for the challenge of facing Messi – whether it’s in the MLS Cup Playoffs or in 2024.
“Like a lot of the players, it’s not just a job for us. We also love soccer,” Romney added. “We love the game and to be able to be on the same field with arguably the best player of all time, you’re just kind of in shock.”
Watch Romney and the Revs take on Minnesota United FC tonight at 8:30 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.