Just six days out from their MLS is Back opener, Revs focus sharpens on Impact

Bruce Arena training | MLS is Back Orlando

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Since the New England Revolution were cleared to return to full-team training in early June, their preparation has functioned something like an abbreviated preseason. There was a heavy emphasis on building fitness, followed by technical work and tactical philosophies.

But now that the Revs have arrived in Orlando and they’ve less than a week until their MLS is Back Tournament opener against the Montreal Impact (July 9, 8 p.m. ET, Univision, Twitter, 98.5 The Sports Hub), they’re switching gears to key in on their upcoming opponent.

That means functioning just as they would if this was a typical midseason match.

“It’s like any week in a season,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “You prepare for your opponent, you prepare your team for the game, and when the whistle blows, we’ve got to be ready to go.”

It’s been four months since the Revs have prepared for an opponent as they haven’t played since a 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire FC on March 7, but after spending a month training amongst themselves and playing frequent intrasquad scrimmages, the players are ready to face some real competition.

“The way training is going to go now, it’s going to be a normal training week before a match,” said Teal Bunbury. “It’s been a long time that we’ve had an opportunity to get ready and prepare for an opponent, A lot of time we’ve been just playing intrasquad scrimmages and beating each other up.

“Now it’ll be good that we can go out there and face a good opponent, and kind of get some retribution against Montreal.”

That quest for retribution stems from the Revolution’s 2-1 loss to the Impact in the season opener back on February 29 at Olympic Stadium, one of just two games the Revs played before COVID-19 halted the season. Bunbury’s early goal gave the Revs the lead in that match, but Montreal responded to take the lead before Tajon Buchanan’s potential late equalizer cannoned off the post.

Although it’s been four months, the Revs still feel there are lessons to be learned from that showdown, and they’ll be using those lessons to hone their approach ahead of next Thursday’s rematch.

“I think we were trying to learn ourselves even a little bit then, so we know more about our own team, which is a positive,” said Henry Kessler, who made his professional debut in that meeting with the Impact. “We know more about them, having played them once now, so that should be helpful.

“Certainly some things will change, but I think we’ll look back to that game to help us prepare.”