Jay Heaps is in his third season as the head coach of the New England Revolution and his journey to revitalize the Revs as they return to the upper echelon of Major League Soccer continues after a breakout 2013 campaign.
Heaps has installed a new winning attitude and an exciting, possession-oriented playing style that focuses on the team’s dynamic young talent. After qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs in his second season at the helm – and surging up the standings in the final month of 2013 – the Revs are poised for even greater improvement in 2014.
With the team’s core set to return – one that not only turned heads offensively in 2013, but also sat near the top of the league all season defensively – the Revolution is looking to challenge for Major League Soccer’s biggest prize this season: MLS Cup.
Guiding the up-start, re-built Revs to a 9-17-8 record in his first season in 2012, Heaps turned the Revolution around in 2013, taking the team to a 14-11-9 record, 51 points – the second-highest point total in club history – and a return to the postseason. Behind a precocious group of young players – highlighted by Homegrown star Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe (Heaps’ first-ever draft pick) and Andrew Farrell (the number one pick in the 2013 SuperDraft) – as well as off-season signing Jose Goncalves, who ended the campaign as the league’s defender of the year, the Revolution turned heads around MLS.
After stepping away from his 11-year MLS playing career following the 2009 season, Heaps returned as the new head coach of the Revolution in November 2011. With his appointment, he brought to the bench some of his hallmark qualities that fans and teammates appreciated during his playing days: spirit, energy, charisma, toughness, passion and tirelessness.
One of the very first members of MLS’ new generation of young (under 40) ex-players in the coaching ranks, Heaps enters 2014 as one of seven coaches under the age of 40. A Nashua, N.H., native and Longmeadow, Mass., product, he is the first former Revs player to take the club’s reins and the first New England native to coach the club.
An 11-year Major League Soccer veteran and club legend, Heaps anchored the Revolution’s defense from 2001 until his retirement at the close of the 2009 season. After his retirement, Heaps remained close to the club as an ambassador and color analyst on both its television and radio broadcasts, while working in the investment banking industry.
After entering MLS in 1999 and later earning MLS Rookie of the Year honors with the Miami Fusion, Heaps returned to his hometown club in June 2001 through a trade. During the next nine seasons in New England, he cemented his legacy as not only a fan favorite, but also a driving leader on the field and in the locker room during the team’s run of four MLS Cup appearances (2002, 2005-07). He is one of three Revs players to start all four of the Revolution’s MLS Cup appearances and he was also a member of the Revolution squads that won the 2007 U.S. Open Cup and the 2008 SuperLiga trophies.
When he closed the book on his playing career in 2009, Heaps left the Revolution as the club’s all-time leader in games played (243), starts (238) and minutes played (21,619) and ranked fifth on the Revs’ career assist chart (26) while scoring nine goals with the Revs. Heaps also held the distinction of being the then longest-tenured Revolution player ever.
At the league level, Heaps was ranked eighth all-time in MLS in games played (314), fourth in starts (299) and third in minutes played (27,363) at the time of his retirement. He closed his playing career with 17 goals and 34 assists overall.
Defined throughout his career by a rugged determination and dedicated team-first mentality, Heaps made at least 27 regular-season appearances in each of his 11 professional seasons. Despite his physical playing style and unquestionably fearless nature, Heaps missed just three games because of injury during eight-and-a-half seasons with the Revolution, making him one of the most reliable players in MLS history. Heaps started every match for which he was available in the last five years of his career, anchoring one of the most consistent defenses in MLS during his time in the league.
Giving credence to the saying that many improve with age, Heaps had perhaps the best seasons of his career as a defender in his final professional years. Honored as the Revolution’s defender of the year for the first time in 2009, Heaps was rewarded for his stellar play with a call-up to the U.S. National Team for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He went on to earn all four caps on his national team résumé during the tournament, including his international debut on July 11, 2009 against Haiti in front of his hometown crowd at Gillette Stadium.
Heaps is also a former member of the U.S. Under-17 and Under-20 National Teams.
Heaps played collegiately at Duke where he won the 1998 Missouri Athletic Club Award as national player of the year. He was a three-time finalist for the Hermann Trophy, a four-time first-team All-ACC selection and four-time all-region choice. He left Duke’s program ranked third in career goals (45), fourth in career assists (37) and tied for second in career points (127). In addition to earning Soccer America’s national freshman of the year honors in 1995, Heaps also played three-and-a-half years of basketball under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski before leaving midway through his senior year to pursue his professional soccer career. He was named one of Duke’s “Top 10 Devils of the Decade” by the Duke Chronicle.
In addition to earning his USSF “A” Coaching License in March 2014, Heaps accrued three years of collegiate coaching experience during his MLS playing days with the Revolution. In 2004, he was a volunteer assistant coach at Boston College under Ed Kelly as the Eagles went 13-5-2 and advanced to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament. He followed that with a two-year stint (2005-06) at Northeastern under Brian Ainscough in the same capacity.
Heaps and his wife, Danielle, live southwest of Boston and have three children: John F. “Jack” Heaps IV (8), Olivia (7) and Jude (3). Heaps is a member of the Board of Directors and the Second Vice Chair of AmericaSCORES Boston, and was the Revs’ representative to the MLS Players Union when he was a player. In 2011, he was inducted into the New England Soccer Hall of Fame.
New England Revolution
Seasons Coaching:Two (2012-present)
Career Record: 23-28-17 (.463)
MLS Cup Playoff Appearances: One (2013) D.O.B.: August 2, 1976 (Nashua, N.H.)
Hometown: Longmeadow, Mass.
College: Duke University (1995-98)
MLS Experience: 11 years (1999-2009)
MLS Honors: 1999 Rookie of the Year, MLS All-Star, four-time MLS Cup participant
U.S. National Team: Four caps (2009)