January 29, 2012
By Charles Cuttone
Revs off to fresh start under Heaps
Things are going according to plan for the New England Revolution's first training camp under rookie coach Jay Heaps. Of course, that doesn't mean there isn't still a lot of work do be done and a lot of questions still to be answered as to how the Revs will come out to start the 2012 Major League Soccer season.
|Sainey Nyassi (above) and Kenny Mansally provided the scoring as the Revolution won their first preseason scrimmage, 2-1 over FC Tucson.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
"Organizationally, it's gone pretty much how we drew it up a couple of weeks ago when we were planning on pre-season," Heaps said. "In terms of how much we were going to play, how much we wanted to get done this week. We have a lot left, but we feel like we are starting to take bites of that elephant one day at a time."
The Revs started training in Arizona last week and played their first scrimmage against FC Tucson Saturday night, a 2-1 win.
Though this is his first training camp as a head coach, Heaps said "I donít think anything really surprised me. I certainly didnít realize how much I was going to enjoy it. It's been a lot of fun."
The Revs got goals from veterans Sainey Nyassi and fellow Gambian Kenny Mansally, but the game was as much about looking at some of the new players, especially in the midfield.
"We really like where the midfield is in terms of the talent level," said Heaps. "We wanted to see the personnel, see what we've got, so now we are going to see what kind of formation we are going to play, built around the players we have."
The team's formation is still up in the air according to Heaps, with a number of possibilities, including a 3-5-2, on the board.
" You have to consider every formation," he explained.
Heaps has been impressed with Kelyn Rowe, the team's first pick in the MLS SuperDraft, and the second pick overall.
"In terms of his soccer IQ, Kelyn is very mature,Ē said Heaps. ďHe's adapting to the speed of the game. Obviously itís different than in college. He has a sense of the speed and he is going to get there. There's no question about it, he'll be an impact player this season."
Rowe and veteran midfielder Benny Fielhaber were late arrivals to Arizona because of U.S. National Team duty, but now that he has arrived, Feilhaber said he is impressed by what he sees, and is ready to take his place as one of the leaders of the team.
" I think all the veteran players on the team, and I think I now find myself as the fifth oldest player on the team, there's definitely some experience there and responsibility to pass that down to the younger guys. I definitely feel the responsibility to do that and I think I have the experience and some things to offer to the younger guys, so I definitely look forward to helping out the younger guys in some ways."
One of the other veteran players on the team, Chris Tierney, says he sees a change in the club under the new coach, after the long, mostly successful tenure of Steve Nicol.
"I think the first thing that we all noticed, the guys who are returning, itís a new level of professionalism that we have around here that we sort of needed.
"The last few seasons, obviously, haven't gone our way. At the same time, we were sick of looking in the past and needed some steps going forward. Everything from bringing in Nick Downing in as strength and conditioning coach to a redone locker room has given us a refreshed outlook for this year, and we're excited at the prospect of starting something new with new players and a new team."