FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – This weekend’s break in the schedule allows the New England Revolution to recover physically and evaluate exactly where the club stands following the first six weeks of the season.
The Revs have played four of their first six games on the road and have picked up their fair share of bumps and bruises along the way. Last weekend against D.C. United a quartet of players – Kevin Alston, Benny Feilhaber, Matt Reis and Clyde Simms – played significant minutes despite being present on the injury report, while Lee Nguyen started on the left wing despite carrying a fever.
While 16 of the league’s 19 teams will be in action this weekend, the Revs won’t be one of them. They won’t return to action until next Saturday when they visit the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena, and A.J. Soares said the players are looking forward to taking a few days to rest the legs and recharge.
“You keep working hard, you keep doing your fitness, you keep training and you’re extra careful, but the game takes it to a different level when you’re competing,” said Soares. “That’s where you pick up injuries, so it’s nice to get a weekend to kind of not have that situation where you might get a big injury.”
“This week we’re going to give the guys the weekend off,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “You need mental rest as much as you need physical rest.”
The benefits of the off weekend can’t be disputed, but there are those who lament the break and the effect it has on a team’s rhythm early in the season. Despite suffering late losses in each of their past two games, the Revs have felt good about their performances for large stretches and many players would prefer to continue playing and not disrupt the tempo.
“I have mixed feelings,” said Stephen McCarthy. “I think we’re really starting to put it together and the past few games have been really unlucky. I actually thought we’ve been playing well and could’ve gotten the results. So it’s kind of a bad time because of that.
“But it’s always good to give the legs a rest and refocus since we’re coming off two losses and I think this is a really big game,” he continued. “So I think it’s good in that way that we get to refocus and get ready for New York.”
The April 28 match at Red Bull Arena begins a brutal stretch for the Revs in which they’ll play three games in eight days, including a midweek home match against the Colorado Rapids followed by another road trip for a weekend meeting with Real Salt Lake. Not only does the upcoming bye weekend allow the Revs to rest ahead of that demanding phase, but it also provides the team a chance to prepare tactically for all three opponents.
“We’re going to ask a lot of the guys,” said Heaps. “There’s going to be a lot of minutes spread around those three games for players that maybe haven’t gotten as many games, as many minutes in this early part of the season. I think they’re going to be called upon to do quite a bit. That’s what this (week) is about; making sure that everyone is on the same page.”