Away We Go: Preseason heats up as Revs prepare for 12-day trip to Florida

Two-week stay in Bradenton will form important baseline

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Those fans eagerly anticipating the start of the New England Revolution’s 2014 schedule will be thrilled to know that this year’s preseason camp won’t drag on quite so long; the Revs have six weeks to prepare for their March 8 season opener in Houston, compared to last year’s seven-week preseason camp.

But for head coach Jay Heaps and the rest of the Revolution’s technical staff, the condensed camp required a bit of extra forethought. With a shorter time frame to complete the necessary work – physical, mental and tactical – Heaps and his staff began outlining a specific 2014 preseason plan shortly after the 2013 season came to an end last November.

“We have a pretty good plan of what we want to do,” said Heaps, noting that the Revs have each training session mapped out for the next month. “But six weeks is a shorter time and you have to just ramp things up when you can. It’s adding the right sessions to make sure you make up for some lost time.”

The Revs certainly aren’t wasting any time in the early going. After opening camp with a trio of local training sessions this weekend, the club will head south to Bradenton, Fla., on Monday morning for a 12-day stay at IMG Academy. While the game schedule is still being finalized, the Revs are hoping to play multiple preseason contests during their stay on the Gulf Coast.

It’s more than just a chance to get into the warm weather and kick the ball around outdoors; preseason is a critical juncture as clubs form a baseline for their entire campaign.

“It’s important that we take care of the next couple weeks,” said Heaps. “Preseason’s really important. It’s an important period in a season, getting set up and making sure that not only are you getting the right work in tactically, but you’re getting the right fitness levels and you’re also managing the body. I think at this point it’s really important that our time is well spent in a group setting.”

Chris Tierney noticed an extra spark amongst the group during Saturday morning’s training session, saying last year’s playoff appearance provides added motivation as a new camp begins. But Tierney also noted it’s important for the players and staff to navigate preseason carefully to avoid potential burnout.

“Everyone’s always flying the first few days. It’s more about pacing yourselves so you’re peaking at the right time and making sure we’re going at all cylinders for that first game on March 8, as opposed to day one of preseason in Florida,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of hard work and it’s going to be a long road to March 8, but we’re all excited about it.”