FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Consider it an extended job interview.
That’s essentially what Dawyne “Rick” Smith, Alec Purdie and Mike Roach have been experiencing each day for the past month. The trio was selected by the Revolution in the MLS Supplemental Draft – along with Kevin Garcia, who has since returned to finish his degree at Villanova – and all three have been in camp with the Revs since mid-January trying to secure their first professional contract and a spot on the Revolution’s opening day roster. Every day is another chance to impress head coach Jay Heaps and the rest of the technical staff.
The stresses of such a situation can weigh heavily on young players trying to clear the final hurdle standing between them and a lifelong dream, but New England’s Supplemental picks have seemingly minimized the pressures and focused instead on the incredible opportunity which lies before them.
“To be honest, I’m just grateful to be here because it’s always been my dream to play at the next level,” said Purdie, who has helped his cause with one goal and one assist in three preseason appearances. “I enjoyed my college career and now I’m here in New England just trying to bring it every day.
“I’ve been given an opportunity and the most I can do is try to take it,” he continued. “I’m just coming out every day, trying to play as hard as I can and trying to make a name for myself.”
Purdie’s workmanlike attitude indicates he’s been listening intently when Heaps has offered advice to the young hopefuls. Off days are inevitable for every player in camp, including veterans, but there’s a sense that even minor slip-ups can be particularly damaging for those hoping to earn a roster spot. Heaps understands the nature of the situation, however, and asks only that players like Smith, Purdie and Roach bring maximum intensity every day.
“What I’ve told them and what I expect from them is to compete every day,” said Heaps. “They don’t have to score five goals or stop five goals or whatever it is we’re looking for from them; it doesn’t have to be every day. We want to see some of that quality, but I want to see someone out there who competes.”
Players must also avoid the trap of trying to do too much in an overzealous attempt to impress, a tactic which is rendered unnecessary during such an extended tryout. Instead, trialists are better served to focus on their strengths and play the way they know they’re capable.
“When you’re trying to earn a spot, you’re just trying to be yourself,” said Roach, who scored the Revolution’s third goal in the club’s 3-0 win over Boston College last Friday. “There’s a reason they picked you. Don’t try to do too much, just try to play within yourself.”
With three weeks until the season opener against the San Jose Earthquakes on March 10, Heaps has indicated his staff is getting close to making decisions on many of the non-rostered players who’ve been in camp. But even if the Revolution’s Supplemental picks are fortunate enough to land on the roster, they’re all well aware the accomplishment would signify the beginning of a journey, not the end.
“We’re all competitors and we all want to be out on the field,” said Roach. “The first [goal] is to make the team and if you make the team, try to get yourself in the starting eleven. If you can’t, just keep competing and battling.”