Preseason training 2018 group

TUCSON, Ariz. – The New England Revolution are only 10 days away from the start of the MLS regular season, meaning preseason is winding down with just one game remaining in Tucson. The new Revs coaching staff, led by head coach Brad Friedel, has stressed both fitness and healthy competition since players reported in late January, and that approach appears to be paying off.

“I think the team is coming together really well,” said Andrew Farrell. “A lot of guys are fighting for positions still, which is good. I think the competition is good for us, pushing each other.”

As players push one another throughout preseason, they also continue to push themselves to new levels physically. The integral piece of the puzzle that propels that fitness regimen forward is head of fitness Anton McElhone, who arrived in Foxborough this offseason after a decade with Tottenham Hotspur.

“I think we’re a little fitter this year, “ stated Kelyn Rowe. “Obviously we’ve harped on it throughout the whole preseason.”

By increasing the level of intensity in training, McElhone has been key to boosting the players’ physical capabilities on the field. It has given players a sharp advantage that puts them in an optimal position before the regular season starts, arguably even stronger than those from preseasons past.

“I think being fit - being one of the most fit teams in the league - is going to help us a lot,” said Farrell. “With the quality we have up top and defensively we’ve gotten a lot better. With our goalkeepers and our back four and our midfielders to the front, [and] with being fit, we’re going to do really well and get a lot of good results.”

With fitness improving the quality of play, it’s enhanced the overall team techniques and chemistry between every player on field.

“You see they’re starting to create a lot of chances as the games go on,” said Rowe. “Hopefully by Saturday (in the preseason finale), and then the following Saturday (in the regular season opener), we create even more.

“We’ve really harped on the defensive side of things making sure that we don’t concede goals, but now we’re starting to work towards the offensive side.”

As the Revs continue to put in the work during preseason, they understand that their efforts must continue as they head back to New England.

“There are going to be some ups and downs, and the beginning is always a period of adjustment,” said Rowe. “I think we’re looking really good going into March 3rd.”

While alterations are natural at the start of the season, the stress placed on being in peak physical shape does not stop after preseason. The fitness expectations will carry directly into the regular season.

But first up is the Revs’ preseason finale, set for 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday night, when they’ll take on the Houston Dynamo in the Mobile Mini Sun Cup championship match.

“That’s the real warmup to the season starting,” said Friedel. “So we’ll be looking again at another advancement in fitness and we’ll hopefully be close to the real thing come Philadelphia.”