PORTLAND, Ore. – Four weeks into preseason, the New England Revolution have built a strong fitness foundation. Following the three-week stint spent working at their home base in Foxborough, Mass., a chance to play two games in Los Angeles gave the group the run-outs they needed to test their physicality with game minutes.
“I feel like fitness has been built up anyway in the first couple of weeks in preseason,” said Michael Mancienne. “I think everybody’s at a good stage. The gaffer has given a lot of boys a lot of minutes. We’ve had a lot of practice games in training against each other, as well, which has helped us physically.”
Now, with only two weeks until the Revs' season opener at the Montreal Impact on February 29, the team turns its attention from a fitness focus to using that foundation to build tactics.
“It’s definitely really important now that we have a tournament with real games to get more realistic expectations for all the players leading into the beginning of the season,” said Scott Caldwell.
“It’s time to hone in on the specifics and not just going out there and playing, so we’re definitely looking forward to improving our play on the field tactically, and together as a team in these next three games.”
These games will give the Revs a chance to technically tune their abilities, as they play their first Portland preseason tournament game against Minnesota United on Sunday.
“Obviously doing like what we did today [in training helps],” said Mancienne. “We did 11-v-11, but with our opposition [it helps] just where we’re meant to be on the pitch at certain points, when we’re attacking, we’re pressing, how we’re pressing, how we’re playing out from the back, just things like that helps the team tactically.
“I think obviously the manager and his staff are getting the boys ready for the first game of the season, making sure the players are right and everyone’s ready to go, but making sure his initial starting 11 is ready to go.”
The Revs take each time they train as an opportunity to improve their play, and the group understands that each session is a step closer to proving they have what it takes to be in the starting XI.
“Coaches are making sure we’re focused on how we want to play and the way we are going to play moving forward,” said Caldwell. “Obviously there will be a few changes here and there, but it’s something that we’re definitely focused on and looking to improve this week.”
New England will kick off against Minnesota United on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET., and the game will be streamed on www.revolutionsoccer.net.