FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – All season the New England Revolution’s approach has been the same: prepare for the upcoming opponent, devise a game plan, execute that game plan and then move on to the next opponent.
But what happens when the next opponent is the team you just played?
That will be the case this weekend when the Revs close out the regular season with the back end of a home-and-home set with the Columbus Crew. Just eight days after defeating the Crew in a 3-2 thriller at Gillette Stadium, New England now heads to Ohio knowing another victory will clinch a postseason berth.
Preparing for the same opponent on back-to-back weekends is a unique task for head coach Jay Heaps, who admits game-planning does take on a different element in these situations.
“There are little nuances, little things that you picked up from what they did,” he said. “So you devise a game plan as if you’re playing the same team, but you have to look outside what you looked at in the first preparation game.
“I think you’ve also got to take into account the last game. They learned some things, we learned some things; it’s just a matter of implementing a little different strategy, but at the same time, bringing a similar focus.”
In short, it’s about making adjustments. Last weekend’s meeting revealed which elements of the game plan worked and which didn’t; now it’s about tweaking the approach accordingly.
As unique as this scheduling quirk is for the regular season, it actually simulates the exact scenario playoff teams will see in the two-leg conference semifinals and conference finals. So should the Revs make a postseason run, this experience could serve to benefit the young side when they encounter similar situations.
“It’s great for our young team to kind of be in this situation of playing home and away,” said goalkeeper Matt Reis. “I think a lot of the guys haven’t been in this (situation), and if we do want to go far in the playoffs, we’re going to have to do this.
“It’s going to be tough going in there. It’s going to be a tough place to play. They’re going to be obviously highly motivated to try and dent our playoff hopes and it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”