FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Adverse weather conditions prevented the New England Revolution from playing anything close to resembling jogo bonito in this past weekend’s home opener, but head coach Jay Heaps was nevertheless happy with how his side approached the 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City.
As the wind forced both sides to adjust their tactics – resorting to long balls and high-pressure defense designed to pin the opponent back – the game took on a decidedly physical tone. Aerial duels and battles for the second ball became the most critical moments and Heaps was thrilled with his side’s response.
“It was a tough game all the way around,” said Heaps. “It certainly wasn’t going to go down as the prettiest soccer game ever played, but it was a good fight from our guys. I was really excited with the way we approached the match.”
Heaps and the Revolution’s technical staff made a concerted effort this past offseason to add a bit of steel after determining that the Revs had been too easily pushed around last year. The Revs suffered the third-most fouls in MLS in 2012, but committed the second-fewest and subsequently won the league’s Fair Play Award.
While Heaps still wants his side to play flowing, attractive soccer, he also wants them to show a bit more bite when the situation requires. It’s that tenacity Heaps hopes was apparent against Sporting KC.
“I hope (fans) saw something a little bit different from us in terms of how we go out there and fight,” he said. “I think last year maybe this game slips away from us and maybe we lose it.”
There’s still work to be done for the Revs, who struggled to generate an attack against a similarly resolute Kansas City side. But having conceded just once in three games and having proven they can match their opponents physically, the Revs are confident in the direction they’re headed.
“We weren’t good enough, I don’t think, on our set pieces when we had our corner kicks and when we had our chances,” said Heaps. “But in terms of defending and fighting and making sure we made it a battle, we did that.”