“Our quality went up, our intensity went up” | Revs battle FC Cincinnati in 120-minute scrimmage

2_1_24 DeJuan Jones vs. FC Cincinnati preseason

BRADENTON, Florida – Preseason preparations rolled on for the New England Revolution on Thursday afternoon, playing a modified 120-minute scrimmage against reigning Supporters’ Shield champions FC Cincinnati at IMG Academy.

Though the Revs fell to defeat, head coach Caleb Porter continues to like what he’s seen from his group as they’ve put a finer focus on perfecting the details of his system and playing style, now reaching the halfway point of their preseason camp.

Porter pointed specifically to the Revolution’s progress in their press, their defensive structure, and their ability to build out of the back on Thursday, showing “marked improvement” since their preseason opener against the New York Red Bulls just one week ago.

“When I look at the execution with the 120 [minutes] with both groups, very, very pleased. Very pleased,” Porter said. “We’re not looking to get results [in preseason], we’re looking to execute. And for me, when you execute, the results will come, the goals will come. I’m very pleased with the execution today.

“I thought our quality went up, I thought our intensity went up, and honestly, I thought we had the better of the game. We’ve just got to kind of not shoot ourselves in the foot a couple times, which is what happened. But that happens in preseason, you know? You’ve got to work the kinks out, and those little mistakes, you’ve got to clean up. So, we’ll clean those up.

“If we play this game again, and play like we did, I’m feeling good about things.”

Two different groups play 60 minutes as fitness continues to build

Thursday’s scrimmage was played in four 30-minute periods, giving most players an opportunity to play 60 minutes with a brief halftime at the half-hour mark.

After most players saw 45 minutes of action in the preseason opener against the Red Bulls last week, followed by 60 minutes in this past Sunday’s intrasquad match, this runout was another opportunity to push the fitness levels ahead of a hectic stretch to begin the campaign.

With Concacaf Champions Cup and regular season matches making for a crowded schedule in the early going, Porter says he’ll need all hands on deck to maneuver the hectic fixture list.

“Everybody’s gotten two 60s now,” he said. “We’re going to need everybody to be ready for these first two games of the year, and I feel like now anybody could play in those first two games.

“We’re really working in a good way, and I think the biggest thing, again, is the team is so bought in. You could see it in how they pressed and how they executed what we wanted to do defensively, and it worked. It really worked.”

Players, staff given four-day break to reset ahead of final crucial stretch of preseason prep

Now almost three weeks into their preseason preparations and 12 days into their extended stay in Florida, Revolution players and staff will be given a four-day break to reset and recharge.

Many players will take the opportunity to visit family and friends, providing a much-needed respite in the midst of a 35-day trip that includes four weeks in Florida, followed directly by trips to Panama and D.C. for the first two games of the campaign.

Following the break, players will reconvene in Florida on Monday night, and resume training on Tuesday.

“It’s important because we’re down here in Florida for four weeks,” Porter said. “It’s important that they get a little bit of a reset, a little bit of a break to see the family, recharge, and mentally be ready to push again in these next couple of weeks to prepare for our first two games of the year, which are both on the road.”

“I think the value of this break is guys getting to do their own thing, step away for four days in what’s a long preseason, but I think a needed one just for the camaraderie, the new system, everything as we learn going forward,” said Nick Lima. “The season’s going to come fast and it’s going to be high volume. It’s going to be a good couple days, and then we get right back to it with the games coming at us quick, so I’m excited for it.”

Three more preseason tests await against Orlando, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati

When the Revs do reconvene early next week, they’ll prepare to face three more MLS opponents in a six-day span, their final preseason tests before their first competitive match on February 21 against CA Independiente in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

Matches against Orlando City SC (February 10), the Philadelphia Union (February 14), and a rematch with FC Cincinnati (February 15) are on the docket, and Porter said the objectives will start to shift in those games as the Revs inch closer and closer to the real thing.

“We’re going to try to get 90 [minutes], or as close to 90 as possible in those games,” Porter said. “The Orlando game, maybe we’re not quite ready for that 90 – maybe it’s 80. But we’re going to try to get as close to 90 as possible with one group.

“Then the next two [against Philadelphia and Cincinnati], we’re going to basically approach it like it’s a real game. Those last two games where we play Philly and we play Cincy, for me, I’m looking for a result in those two games.

“I’m not looking for a result right now. I’m looking for execution. Because sometimes you can try to get a result and manufacture a goal a certain way, or play in a different way to get the result. You know, when the season starts, that’s what it’s about, but I’m looking for us to play in the way we want to play in terms of our game model, and that takes time to execute, because it’s different.

“But what I saw last game to this game was a marked improvement.”