LOS ANGELES – Preseason preparations took a significant step forward on Friday morning as the New England Revolution ran through their first training session since moving camp to the west coast, where they’ll be set up for the next 17 days between Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.
Dignity Health Sports Park will serve as the Revs’ base for the first week out west, before they’ll head north up the coast next Friday, Feb. 14, to spend nine days in the PNW.
New England’s camp consists of all 26 players currently under contract with the club, plus unsigned SuperDraft picks Simon Lekresner and Keegan Meyer.
After laying the groundwork in Foxborough, preseason moves into “phase two”
The first 19 days of preseason camp were spent in Foxborough, Mass., where training sessions bounced back and forth between the Empower Field House and one of the Revs’ outdoor training fields. Those sessions were primarily about building fitness, increasing sharpness on the ball, and establishing the foundation for success in 2020.
By shifting camp to California the Revs are shifting their focus on the field, as well, as they’ll move more heavily into tactics and playing style in the coming weeks.
“We laid the groundwork in the first part of preseason in the first phase, and now we’re out here – kind of phase two – getting ready to play some games and figure out a formation and tactics, and kind of move on in that direction,” said goalkeeper Brad Knighton.
Five preseason matches scheduled between February 10 and February 22
New England’s time on the west coast will be packed with matches as the Revs will play all five of their preseason games in a 13-day span, all against MLS opposition.
Two of those matches will be in LA, beginning with the Revs’ first preseason test on Monday, Feb. 10, when they’ll take on the LA Galaxy (2 p.m. ET). That’ll be followed by meetings with the Colorado Rapids (Feb. 12), Minnesota United (Feb. 16), Vancouver Whitecaps (Feb. 19), and Portland Timbers (Feb. 22).
“Everybody’s ready,” said Brandon Bye. “We’re doing a lot of (intra-squad) scrimmages within the team, but it’s always nice to play somebody else and see how you rank up against other competition.”
Offseason additions continuing to integrate with the established core
Those five preseason matches will be critically important for the Revolution’s cadre of newcomers, including international additions Adam Buksa and Alexander Büttner.
A series of games against MLS opposition will not only provide ample opportunity for those fresh faces to build relationships with their teammates and better understand the club’s tactical setup, but those games also offer a chance to test themselves against the type of competition they’ll see throughout the season.
“They’ve acclimated really well,” Knighton said of the newcomers. “They’ve come in with an open mind, willing to learn, willing to take on information, and to get to know the group that was already here in place. For those guys coming in, it’s been an easy transition, I think, and that’s helped us on and off the field.”
Turner settling into preseason camp after returning from USMNT duty
Matt Turner’s whirlwind offseason wasn’t much of an offseason as the 25-year-old goalkeeper joined the U.S. National Team for a pair of lengthy camps, spending almost 50 days all told training with the Stars and Stripes.
Having returned from international duty earlier this week, Turner is still readjusting to life with the Revs after missing the first two weeks of preseason camp, but he said it’s been an easy transition coming back to a group of players he’s played with for the past four years.
“There’s a lot of the same faces as last year, which obviously made the transition to come back a lot easier and smoother for me,” Turner said. “Still getting my bearings, still adapting to some of the newer guys, and learning a little bit about them.
“I think I’ve had – I’d call it two-and-a-half training sessions with the team so far – so I’m sure as the days go by and we start playing games, we’ll get to know each other even more, and I’m excited.”
Turner said that after spending extensive time with the USMNT during the offseason, Revolution staff have been easing him back into training so as not to overwork him in the early going.
“They don’t want to run me into the ground,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m here, I’m ready to work, and I’m ready to do what needs to be done to get myself ready for February 29.”