FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Entering Week 4 of the Major League Soccer schedule, every team but one has had the chance to play in front of its home fans. All, of course, except the New England Revolution.
That will be rectified on Saturday afternoon when the Revolution hosts Sporting Kansas City at Gillette Stadium, where the Revs aim to establish themselves as one of the league’s strongest home sides in 2013.
“It’s really important to do well at home,” said goalkeeper Matt Reis, who’s hoping to return for the home opener after missing last weekend’s trip to Philadelphia. “We’d really like to win as many games as we can at home. It really helps us in the long run because it’s harder to play on the road. Conversely, we want to make it really difficult for teams to come in here and play.”
After compiling a league-worst 4-7-6 home record in 2011, the Revs improved to 7-4-6 at Gillette Stadium in their first year under head coach Jay Heaps. Better at both ends of the field, the Revs increased their home goal-scoring total from 17 (2011) to 23 (2012), while they lowered their goals against from 24 (2011) to 15 (2012).
But the Revs want to be even better at home in 2013. Last year the league’s top 10 teams all finished with a home win total somewhere between 10 and 12, making double-digit home victories a clear benchmark for teams with postseason aspirations.
“It’s really crucial,” Lee Nguyen said of home form. “If we can win [at home], it’s going to be a lot easier for us to make the playoffs. It’s going to be a lot harder to get points away from home. We want to be a fortress here.”
“It is what it is on the road,” added Heaps. “You have to prepare yourself to play in different environments and travel to get there. At home, there’s definitely a comfort level, but there’s also a level of intensity that has to be represented when you’re defending your home field.”