Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Revs' rebound hinges on two clashes with Crew
by Ridge Mahoney, October 18th, 2013 5:09PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls, new england revolution

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney

There's not much ambiguity when it comes to evaluating a straggler that's made a coaching change; if the team makes the playoffs, it's a success; if it doesn't, it's not.

Unfair it may be, but that’s the criteria set out for several head coaches in MLS, including Jay Heaps of the New England Revolution. The Revs are in seventh place but just one point out of a playoff spot heading into a home-and-home series with Columbus, which of the 13 teams still in the hunt for eight spots has the fewest points and the faintest hopes.

“We wanted to be in contention at this point in the season,” says Heaps, a defender in his playing days who last year jumped into the fray as a rookie head coach and suffered through a 9-17-8 campaign. After 32 games this season, the Revs are 12-11-9 and their goal difference of plus-9 is third-best in the Eastern Conference.

“We didn’t have any illusions about running away with it or having 60 points,” he says. “This is the time of year that, quite frankly, the best teams I was on as a player, guys showed up.”

Heaps played on four New England teams (2002, 2005, 2006, 2007) that reached the title game and lost each one of them. Those Revs finished in first place in two of those seasons yet Heaps has been consistently preaching to his players, including a few key members who are 22 or younger, that a playoff spot is more than good enough at this phase.

But as a team on the rise, New England needs playoff-type intensity in late-season games just to reach the postseason. A 2-2-1 record in the past few games reflects its work-in-progress status. A solid 1-0 win in Montreal last weekend, marred by a serious ankle injury that will sideline Saer Sene for at least a few months, signaled an upgrade in maturity from its last home game.

“Our game against Houston recently was the most playoff-like,” says Heaps of a 1-1 tie at Gillette Stadium Sept. 28. “Houston knows how to disrupt a game, they know how to play on the road. We had every chance to win that game but Houston took advantage of one mistake.

“Going to Chicago [Sept. 14], we were up, 2-1, and could have gone up, 3-1, but there was a controversial offside call where Saer scores. We give up a goal and don’t win [actually a 3-2 loss] and that was another good learning experience.”

Learning is all well and good, and one must remember that the 2011 team Heaps inherited from former Coach Steve Nicol won all of five games. New England is battling Montreal and Philadelphia, which also play this weekend, as well as the Crew and Chicago for the unclaimed spots. New York and Sporting Kansas City have qualified.

New England won the only 2013 meeting played so far, 2-0, on July 20 at Crew Stadium, which is where the teams conclude their regular seasons next weekend. Yet the Revs could sweep both games, finish at 14-11-9, and still not qualify for the playoffs if other results went against them.

The Crew has been there. It fell short of the postseason last year despite a 15-12-7 record. Its poor performance this season triggered a change of coaches, and so Heaps will match wits with another former defender, Brian Bliss, rather than Robert Warzycha.

Heaps is the only holdover from the 2002 team, but keeper Matt Reis arrived the following season and was a Heaps’ teammate until he moved into the coaching ranks after that dismal 2011 campaign. Reis has watched as stalwarts such as Jeff Larentowicz and Shalrie Joseph were moved on, and youngsters like A.J. Soares, Jalil Anibaba, Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez, Juan Agudelo and Scott Caldwell were groomed for the big time. They are now on the brink of a significant milestone.

“It’s a great test for us no matter what; the last two games, home and away,” says Reis, who in the second half of the season reclaimed the starting slot from Bobby Shuttleworth. “It’s like what we’re going to have to face in the playoffs. We want to be a playoff team, year-in and year-out.

“It’s a great opportunity for us. We’re right where we need to be and it’s just a matter of execution."


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
NYCFC's Pirlo problem won't go away    
Jason Kreis, New York City FC's head coach for its expansion season, never came out and ...
Recent incidents sharpen focus on how video replay can improve the game    
MLS and other North American soccer leagues are awaiting specific guidelines to be issued by FIFA ...
MLS ups the ante on expansion    
Major League Soccer has come a long way in the last decade, let alone the last ...
How Brian McBride started his path to stardom    
Brian McBride is regarded as one of the top forwards in U.S. history and played in ...
Klinsmann stance on Jordan Morris makes sense    
The Jordan Morris saga has begun its professional chapter and a middling start with the Sounders ...
Projecting USA's Copa America Centenario roster    
Results for the national team and U-23 team in March altered the landscape for U.S. Head ...
Olympic debacle proves Klinsmann shouldn't be in charge    
Coach Andi Herzog failed to qualify the U.S. U-23 men's national team for the 2016 Olympic ...
Klinsmann failed test in Guatemala City    
Perhaps it was inevitable that the U.S. unbeaten streak against Guatemala in qualifying play had to ...
The day Cruyff came to town    
While the soccer world mourns the death of Johan Cruyff -- the electrifying, revolutionary player who ...
USA is going for the sweep against Guatemala    
The middle two games in the U.S. World Cup qualifying semifinal round are against Guatemala, which ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives