Preseason finale shows promise ahead of next weekend’s season opener in Houston
TUCSON, Ariz. – It was somewhat fitting that after 14 consecutive days of ideal weather – featuring low 70-degree temperatures and sunny skies – the New England Revolution’s extended preseason trip to Tucson, Ariz., ended on Saturday afternoon amidst driving rain and swirling winds.
The blustery conditions were certainly a factor in the Revolution’s preseason finale against the Colorado Rapids, which finished in a 2-2 draw, but it didn’t prevent the Revs from putting together a capable display just one week before the season opener against the Houston Dynamo.
While head coach Jay Heaps wasn’t thrilled to see his side concede a pair of one-goal leads, he praised the way New England came out strong to start each half. Those promising periods delivered the Revolution’s two goals, including a fifth-minute stunner from Teal Bunbury and 57th-minute strike from rookie Patrick Mullins.
“It was definitely a very important game being the final dress rehearsal before the season opens up,” said holding midfielder Scott Caldwell. “I thought we started off really strong the first five to ten minutes. Even though they had the ball a little bit, we created a couple chances and Teal finished a great shot.
“As the first half wore on I think we fell back a little bit, maybe because of the conditions with the wind. But overall, we came out in the second half again strong, so I think it was a good finish to the preseason.”
Heaps said one of the primary objectives on Saturday was to come out of the match unscathed and without any further injuries, which was accomplished. As planned, New England’s starting group played 65 minutes, designed to help boost fitness while at the same time keeping everybody fresh ahead of the season opener.
For now, it’s back to Foxborough, where the Revs will train for a week before heading to Houston on Thursday. There’s still plenty of work to be done in the buildup to next weekend’s match, but after five weeks of preseason, the players are starting to itch for the real thing.
“We’re all ready for that game,” said Diego Fagundez. “I think that’s the best part. We had a long preseason, but we’re getting closer and it’s only a couple days left.”