At season’s midway point, Revs encouraged by progress

Revolution aims to build upon recent uptick in form as stretch run looms

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A five-game unbeaten streak and a steady rise up the Eastern Conference table have the New England Revolution feeling confident with the direction the club is headed having officially reached the midway point of the 2012 season.

“I think we’re definitely headed in the right direction,” said left back Chris Tierney, who leads the Revolution with four assists. “We’re playing some decent stuff and we’re gaining confidence, which is very important.”

Confidence is something the Revolution lacked after a frustrating 2011 campaign in which the club finished with a record of 5-16-13 and missed out on the postseason for the second consecutive year. But under the guidance of new head coach Jay Heaps, the Revs spent the bulk of preseason and the early part of the regular season changing the culture within the club and searching for their unique identity.

There were some expected growing pains in the early stages – the Revs started the season 2-5-0 – but they’ve since rounded into form, going 4-2-4 in their last 10 matches and climbing to within three points of the playoff picture in the East. The slow start combined with the recent turnaround has the players feeling like they’ve finally found that elusive identity.

“I think we’ve really identified the team that we’re going to be, the style of play we want, what’s expected of every player every day in training, during every game and in the weight room,” said second-year defender A.J. Soares. “Establishing that and now having our identity, we’re becoming more consistent.

“I think going forward we’re going to just continue to get better,” Soares added. “We’re a young team that needed to find what we were good at and really figure out what we needed to do to win games and I think we’re starting to do that.”

The Revolution’s identity has coupled a free-flowing, attacking style with a solid defensive shape and a never-say-die attitude which has characterized the team in recent weeks. But just because the Revs have started picking up points on a consistent basis doesn’t mean they feel as though they’ve reached their potential. Rather, players and coaches alike feel the recent uptick has simply provided a glimpse of where this club can go in the second half of the season.

“We feel that we’ve made progress, but we want to be a better team in the standings,” said Heaps. “We’ve shown well but we feel that we could be higher up the standings. That’s a good feeling to have if we know that we’re leaving points on the field, (because) if we correct those (mistakes), we should be in a better position.”

“There’ve been ups and downs, for sure,” said Tierney. “We’re by no means satisfied. We’ve put ourselves in a decent position to be in the hunt for a playoff spot, but we obviously have to continue to improve and continue in the direction that we’re going at the moment to give ourselves a chance to get into the playoffs.”