FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It’s difficult to imagine watching soccer as torture, but that’s essentially what the New England Revolution experienced last weekend as Major League Soccer’s other 18 teams kicked off the season while the Revolution was the only club with a bye.
The Revs will finally have their chance to take the field on Saturday night when they visit the Chicago Fire and after seven weeks of preseason training, kickoff can’t come soon enough.
“I’ve been through long preseasons and all you want is for the season to get there,” said forward Chad Barrett, hoping to make his Revolution debut at Toyota Park. “I think sitting out the first week just makes you get the itch a little bit more just because you see everybody’s opening day, you see the fans back and you just can’t wait to get back on the field.”
Without a game last weekend, the Revs played a 60-minute intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday morning in hopes of replicating the match-day experience and getting into the regular-season rhythm of weekend games. While the scrimmage served its purpose, it couldn’t quite match the intensity of the real thing.
“We’re kind of pent up right now. We’ve got a lot of energy,” said center back A.J. Soares. “We’re excited to get going, we’re excited to be in Chicago and excited to be on the road for the first game. We want that challenge. I think everyone’s fit, everyone’s healthy and we’re ready to go.”
There’ll be no easing into the schedule for the Revs, who open against a Fire side looking to rebound from a disappointing 4-0 loss to the LA Galaxy last weekend. Chicago’s roster is littered with new faces – including former Revolution midfielder Jeff Larentowicz and former New York Red Bulls playmaker Joel Lindpere – but regardless of the players wearing the jerseys, the basis of the Revs-Fire rivalry remains well intact.
“Chicago’s always a tough team that through the years we’ve had some epic battles with,” said goalkeeper Matt Reis. “They’re always going to be somebody that we’re going to have to beat in order to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
“They have a few new players – much like us – but I think year-in, year-out, they do the same things. They battle, they fight and they make it tough on us. It’s going to be a tough game and we’re going to really have to play a perfect game to get some points out of there.”