FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When the 2019 schedule was unveiled, New England Revolution president Brian Bilello sat down with the club’s technical staff to decide how they wanted to utilize the four legs of charter travel they’re allowed each season.
This week’s cross-country trip to Portland, Oregon – a Wednesday night match sandwiched between home games on either weekend – was at the top of the list.
“We go into every season with the plan to use all of our charter legs,” Bilello said from the comfort of seat 2C, en route to the Pacific Northwest on Monday afternoon. “This one was the obvious first choice, the one we wanted to prioritize for charter travel.”
And so it is that as the Revs make the 5,000-mile roundtrip journey from Providence to Portland, they’re doing so via the comfortable accommodations of a private jet owned by investor/operator Robert Kraft.
It’s the second time the club has made use of the plane this season – they also traveled via AirKraft to a match in Kansas City back in April – and the players are quick to point out the benefits: oversized seats, extra leg room, first-class meal service, private entertainment systems, and more.
Each amenity adds up to a much more comfortable travel experience – even more so than on a typical charter flight – and that could make all the difference when the Revs take the field on Wednesday night.
“It’s a massive help to the players,” said Michael Mancienne. “You’ve got a bit more room, more legroom, you’re not sat up straight for the whole flight and feel stiff after it. You can get up and move around a little bit, and it’s more relaxed, as well. I think it’s very beneficial for the team.”
While the Revs wouldn’t have known the importance of Wednesday night’s match when they decided to make this a charter trip at the beginning of the season, they likely couldn’t have chosen any better. Perched three points above the playoff line with three games remaining the Revs are in the thick of the race, making their visit to Providence Park critical in their quest for a return to the postseason.
“I think it comes at a good time,” said Juan Agudelo. “This is a big, big game. I know we’ve been saying it for a couple weeks now, but for us to have a midweek game, and for us to just get on an easy flight today, put our legs up – we can ice on the plane, we can do a lot of things. No headaches.”
It’s that avoidance of headaches that’s most important to sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena, who said it was vital for the Revs to minimize the travel burden at this point in the season.
“It saves us many hours, and it’s obviously a lot more convenient,” Arena said. “Scheduling a cross-country midweek (game) makes zero sense, but at least we’ve come up with somewhat of a partial solution to deal with it.”
There are additional benefits, as well – Bilello noted that the Revs were able to invite select members of the media and several sponsors on the trip because of the extra space – but the primary benefits are for the players, who don’t have to deal with the demands of commercial travel during a hectic week.
And it’s not just the game in Portland that sees those benefits, as the Revs will charter home immediately after the match on Wednesday night, putting them back in New England on Thursday morning and giving them the maximum amount of time to prepare for Sunday’s home finale against New York City FC.
“We think it’s critical that we use the charters,” Bilello said.