The Revolution started their Saturday with snow falling in New England. An indoor training session, snowy ride to the airport and a five-and-a-half hour flight later, the team ended its day in the wee hours Sunday morning in Casa Grande, Ariz.
The Revs pulled into the Grande Sports World around 12:45 a.m. Mountain Time on Sunday under a star-lit sky that spread as far as the eye could see.
Later in the morning, once the sun had come up, the team got a first look at the facility which it will spend the next 10 days.
“It’s amazing. I love it out here,” defender Darrius Barnes said after the team’s first training session in Casa Grade on Sunday morning. “Flat land out in desert, some grass fields just lying right here in the middle of the desert, serenity – I’m loving it.”
“It’s good company, good football,” said midfielder Ryan Guy – who is participating in his first Revolution preseason after joining the club last June. “ We’re excited for the new year. I think this is a great place to get everyone away from their everyday lives and into a place where we can all concentrate the year ahead.”
Benefitting from an all-inclusive set up in Casa Grande, the Revs only have to worry about training, working out and getting to know one another. The team’s hotel is on-premises of the training facilities, which include not only a dedicated locker room and athletic training suite, but also a weight and fitness facility and four grass fields.
Sunday morning, wasting little time to take advantage of the perfect weather, the team ran through a 60-minute session on a field in the shadows of its hotel, getting accustomed to being outdoors for the first time in 2012.
“Everyone was definitely looking forward to (this morning’s session),” Barnes said. “It’s nice to actually get out here and not have to wear winter coats when we’re making the commute from the stadium through the snow to the bubble. I think everyone is excited to be out here and play on some natural grass and just be outside in a natural environment and natural setting.”
With the first outdoor session in the books, the new coaching staff took notice of the pep in the players’ steps.
“You can already see the guys are excited to be here,” head coach Jay Heaps said. “It’s perfect weather; it’s perfect fields. It energizes them.”
What Heaps and his staff are looking to further energize throughout this trip is a team identity - a team personality and manner in which the Revolution will play in 2012.
“That’s the most important thing,” Heaps said. “I mentioned it when we first announced our preseason schedule, but these first 10 days here in Casa Grande are about developing our identity. And that’s exactly what we want to do. We have everything here – to train, to have the ability to lift, to do film – certain things you want to do as a team in one area, and that’s what we’re able to do here. This place is great”
So while the Revs are in Casa Grande, all attention is on soccer and laying a foundation for the upcoming season and bonding. But on Sunday afternoon, the other football took a bit of the team’s attention as the Revs team settled in after training to watch their fellow Gillette Stadium residents, the New England Patriots, win their way to the Super Bowl in two weeks.
“We’re out in the middle of nowhere and in a lot of ways it’s a good thing,” Guy said. “I think our one connection to the outside world is ESPN so we get to watch some sports and see the Pats hopefully win today. But other than that, it’s going to be football, football, football and team bonding.”