FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution will conduct its first training session of the 2012 preseason – and its first under new head coach Jay Heaps – in just 13 days.
With camp set to open on Jan. 16 and the club’s first preseason trip to Arizona set for Jan. 21, plenty of work remains to shape the club’s roster, which currently boasts just 18 players after a massive housecleaning following a dismal 2011 campaign. The moves have left 10-12 spots open on the Revolution’s roster.
Heaps – along with General Manager Michael Burns – has spent the bulk of his first two months in charge piecing together a coaching staff and identifying transfer targets on a series of scouting trips. Now with the season fast approaching, the time has come to start making significant additions to fill the holes on a presently thin roster.
“There’s been a sense of urgency since I was hired in November – you can check my frequent flier miles,” Heaps quipped. “We had to put together a staff and now that’s coming together, but there’s no question in my mind that we feel a sense of urgency to make some signings … It’s not an overnight process. It takes a little while. But in that same breath, we’ve pushed the needle a little bit.”
It appears as if the needle will be pushed farther in the coming weeks as the Revs aim to finalize deals with multiple international signings. While the club has already inked Re-Entry Process selection Clyde Simms and continues to negotiate with Danleigh Borman, Nate Jaqua, Rajko Lekic and Monsef Zerka, the Revolution hopes to add new players from outside MLS within a matter of days.
“There’s a lot going on there; more so than you’re going to read on MLS Rumor Central,” Heaps said about New England’s international scouting. “We’re trying to bring in players that I’ve seen personally who I know that if we get done are going to impact this team quite a bit day one.”
“Our goal is to have a couple players signed by preseason,” said Burns. “When I say signed, if they’re international players sometimes it means you have to wait on the P1 (Visa) process and the international clearance. I can’t guarantee that new players will be in (camp) on the Fifteenth (when players report), although that’s our objective.”
The Revs also hold two picks in the upcoming MLS SuperDraft – including the third overall selection – and four additional picks in the Supplemental Draft, which Heaps said will be important to ensure depth on the 28-30 man roster. Burns indicated the club will bring additional players on trial during its two preseason trips to Arizona, as well.
Heaps also identified trades within the league – a method the Revs have utilized minimally in years past – as a means of acquiring proven talent.
“It’s just not as easy because most of [the trades] happen around the draft or after the draft,” Heaps said. “If we haven’t made as big a splash, it’s because we’re waiting to see where that pans out.”
While it’s clear more changes to the roster are forthcoming, Heaps also wants to ensure his returning players understand major changes are set to take place in all aspects of the organization, from the culture to game preparation and conditioning.
“They’re getting themselves mentally ready to come into the season,” Heaps said. “I want to see when they walk in the door that they understand this is no longer what they’re used to. It’s a different feel, for sure.”