BRADENTON, Fla. – Tuesday afternoon’s 1-1 draw with FC Cincinnati put a bow on the New England Revolution’s 13-day stay at IMG Academy, where head coach Brad Friedel and his staff laid the foundations of fitness and tactical philosophies that will guide the Revs toward the regular season.
First-round SuperDraft pick Brandon Bye was the goal scorer on Tuesday, combining with Cristian Penilla down the right wing before a composed finish, bringing the Revs’ record to 1-1-1 in a trio of friendlies. This trip wasn’t about results, however, but rather the work put into improving each and every day, whether on the training field, in a match, in the gym, or in a film session.
“All in all, the whole training camp here has done exactly what we wanted it to do,” said Friedel. “We’ve instilled some of our philosophies, (done) a lot of hard work, (and) there are a lot of tired bodies.”
The Revs will rest those tired bodies on Wednesday and Thursday, taking a pair of days off before returning to the training field in New England on Friday morning. It’s a necessary break after a taxing two-week stretch that tested the players’ limits both physically and mentally.
“We put a lot of hard work in the bank, which is what you always want to do in preseason,” said Chris Tierney, now in his 11th year with the Revolution. “They’ve really been pushing us physically – it’s been extremely demanding – but we’ve gotten a lot of good work done.
“This is fitness, this is mentality that’s in the bank now moving forward. We’ll continue to work on our system and how we want to play with the ball and without the ball, and our shape and those types of things, but it was a good first trip for us.”
Now it’ll be a brief stay at home for the Revs before heading to Tucson, Arizona, on Sunday, where they’ll play four matches in two weeks as part of the Mobile Mini Sun Cup, taking them right up to the week before the season opener against the Philadelphia Union.
It’ll be a critical trip as newcomer Wilfried Zahibo joins the squad and players like Juan Agudelo, Antonio Delamea and Krisztián Németh get back into the mix, while Friedel also said that “maybe one or two other faces will be in” as the Revs begin to round out their roster.
Competition between those who’ve been in camp will also continue to heat up, and the matches will become more realistic as the Revs aim to replicate what they’ll experience come the regular season.
“As each game goes by, the intensity level’s going to raise a little bit as the fitness levels raise,” said Friedel. “The players aren’t going to want to lose any games and the staff’s not going to want to lose any games, and it all starts to get a little bit more exciting.”