FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It should come as no surprise that Jay Heaps has a plan.
With the Revs scheduled to play three games in a hectic eight-day stretch beginning with Saturday afternoon’s visit to the New York Red Bulls, Heaps is prepared to dip deep into his squad in an effort to manage minutes and maintain fitness during a physically demanding period. Depth will be critical as the Revs return home for a midweek meeting with the Colorado Rapids (May 2) before hitting the road again to battle Real Salt Lake (May 5).
“We have to make sure we’re fresh, we have to make sure we’re using different players and using players the right way,” said Heaps. “This is when you find out the depth of the team and what players can step in, be ready and be able to change the game when they get the opportunity.”
Heaps and his staff already have an idea which players will get that opportunity. While circumstances will dictate what actually happens as the week progresses, Heaps has drawn up a guide map of sorts, highlighting the planned route for the journey. He can’t state for certain which players will start each match and how long each player will play, of course, but he’s got a pretty good idea.
“We map it out,” Heaps said. “It’s a little bit of a feel, it’s a little bit of give and take because you can’t see all the way into the future, but we go in with a pretty organized roster rotation.
“(We identify) where we see guys that we think can play all three games, we see guys who may need the middle game break, or maybe it’s going to be too much in the last game,” he said. “We’ve started to build that this week and there will be modifications. We’ll change that as the weekend and week approaches.”
The good news for Heaps is that he starts with close to a clean slate. The timing of last weekend’s bye was beneficial as it gave the Revs a chance to recover physically ahead of the upcoming gauntlet. Refreshed and rejuvenated, the players are eager to get back on the field and begin climbing up the Eastern Conference standings.
But fresh as they feel now, continued maintenance between games will be vital as the Revs look to make the most of the challenge before them.
“You just try to be smart and be professional in the way that you take care of your body,” said Chris Tierney, who referenced the guidance of strength and conditioning coach Nick Downing. “Make sure you’re eating the right things, getting treatment, doing all the small stuff that makes a big difference in the end.”