TUCSON, Ariz. – No one needs to remind the New England Revolution that preseason results don’t count in the standings. Last year, the Revs won their first four preseason matches – including victories over MLS foes FC Dallas and the Columbus Crew – only to struggle throughout the regular season en route to a five-win campaign.
With that experience in their back pockets, the Revs aren’t taking their perfect 5-0-0 preseason record for more than it’s worth. Instead, the club is focused on replicating the positives and correcting the negatives from the recent string of preseason performances while continuing to forge a team identity during an extended stay in Tucson, Ariz.
But while performances are more important than results at this juncture of the season, players and coaches would always prefer to win if given the option. Currently atop the table with six points from two matches in the Desert Diamond Cup, the Revs have put themselves in pole position to challenge for a trophy in Saturday night’s championship match at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. It’s an objective veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis believes the team should strive to achieve.
“Every season, you want to win everything you’re in,” said Reis. “Especially for us, it’s important for us to get back to a winning mentality and a winning attitude, and any time you can take a tournament trophy home, it’s only going to help you. Winning is contagious, but so is losing. So we need to get sick with winning.”
A winning mentality is certainly spreading through the Revolution’s ranks following back-to-back wins over the LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls, two of the early favorites to challenge for MLS Cup. A quiet confidence is building within the side as it prepares for the season opener against the San Jose Earthquakes on March 10, and the players assert that self-belief will be a benefit once the regular-season schedule kicks off.
“I think it’s huge for a group like ours which has a lot of new pieces in here and a new coach, a new regime, and I think it’s big for us to kind of get that confidence and that chemistry flowing a little bit,” said defender Darrius Barnes. “When you can gain confidence in preseason, it’s like a hint towards what’s going to happen towards the beginning of the season. It does nothing but good things for this young group we have in here.”
“The results we’ve gotten have been important for confidence,” agreed midfielder Clyde Simms. “With the season this team had last year, it’s easy to come in and play scared and play not to lose. We need to have the attitude that no matter who we’re going up against, we can win the game and we’re playing to win. That’s what we’ve done so far.”
The Revs will look to keep progressing on Wednesday night when they return to action against Real Salt Lake, the 2009 MLS Cup champion and a CONCACAF Champions League finalist last season. It’s another chance for the players to prove – primarily to themselves – that they can compete with anyone in the league.
“These are great teams and we’re getting results against them,” said midfielder Kelyn Rowe. “It’s something that you haven’t seen in a while so we’re very happy. We want to keep this rolling and we’re hoping to get another one again on Wednesday.”