TUCSON, Ariz. – Five weeks of preseason preparation will come to a close on Saturday afternoon when the New England Revolution will finish up their Desert Diamond Cup schedule against the New York Red Bulls (3 p.m. ET, streaming live on revolutionsoccer.net and YouTube).
Saturday’s match will be the Revolution’s seventh preseason contest, but it will be the closest yet to replicating a regular-season encounter. For the first time, most of New England’s starting group is likely to push toward playing the full 90 minutes, marking one of the final steps in their preseason prep.
It’s all part of the progression designed by head coach Jay Heaps, who wants to have his squad in rhythm ahead of next weekend’s regular-season opener against the Colorado Rapids.
“It’s getting close to that time in the season,” said Lee Nguyen, who was in midseason form with two goals and two assists in the Revs’ 6-2 win over Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. “It’s time for guys to get their fitness levels up.
“At the same time, we want to stay as healthy as possible so we can have everyone for that first [game].”
Most of the Revolution’s first-choice group played 70 minutes last Saturday against Colorado, and then went 45 minutes on Wednesday against SKC. They’ve continued to show marked progression throughout the Desert Diamond Cup, culminating in a five-goal second-half showing against Kansas City.
The objective now is to carry that momentum and confidence into the preseason finale against the Red Bulls, and use their final tune-up to roll into the impending season, now just one week away.
“We have to stay 100 percent positive and keep moving forward, and be ready for that opening game,” said Diego Fagundez, who scored his first preseason goal against SKC. “It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be important, and we’re going to have to try to go and get three points.”