FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Technically the New England Revolution has a bye in Week 1 of the MLS schedule, but the club prefers to consider it an extended preseason.
While the league’s other 18 teams open the 2013 campaign this weekend – with six games scheduled for Saturday and three more on Sunday – the Revs will simply continue training as they prepare for next weekend’s nationally-televised (NBC Sports Network) opener against the Chicago Fire.
“You want to be part of opening weekend and the excitement of it, but at the same time this also gives us another week of preparation, another week to recover and get ourselves ready for next week’s game,” said head coach Jay Heaps.
With an odd number of teams in MLS, one club was guaranteed to miss out on opening weekend. The Revs have known it would be them since home openers were announced back in mid-December, meaning Heaps and his staff were able to shape their preseason plans accordingly.
“I always knew it was there so our preseason was built over seven weeks as opposed to six,” said Heaps. “I think that’s where we benefit in the long-term projection of our season; we were able to build in an extra week.”
The Revs will also benefit from being able to scout the weekend’s opening games, particularly Sunday afternoon’s meeting between the Fire and LA Galaxy. Chicago revamped its midfield this past offseason – notably bringing in former Revolution stalwart Jeff Larentowicz and former New York Red Bulls star Joel Lindpere – and Sunday’s game provides the Revs an opportunity to see them before traveling to Toyota Park next weekend.
“If you don’t watch the games, at least catch the highlights and kind of see what’s going on,” said goalkeeper Matt Reis. “It does give us a little bit of an advantage to see how teams are going to set up and some of the new faces on all the teams.”
On the flip side, a Week 1 bye means the Revs will have one fewer off weekend in the middle of the season, when players typically begin to wear down and could use the rest. The Revolution’s other byes occur in early April and late June.
But while the Revs might wish they could bank this bye for later in the season, they’ll take the schedule as it comes and make use of the advantages it provides.
“You’d like to save your bye weeks for the middle of the season when you’ve put a lot of load on the team,” admitted Reis. “But it’s still early and to have that extra week (of preseason) and see where everybody is, I think it’s going to help us.”