FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Entering 2012 under the direction of first-year head coach Jay Heaps, New England Revolution players and staff knew they were beginning a process. After missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, drastic change was needed as the club yearned for a return to the lofty heights achieved in past years.
While immediate success is always the objective, sometimes the process takes a bit longer to unfold. In such cases, what’s most important is consistently moving forward, ensuring that every game – every training session – is a step in the right direction.
“I think it was absolutely a growing year,” Ryan Guy said as he reflected on the 2012 campaign. “Unfortunately, sometimes when you’re growing, there are pains, and I think that’s exactly what we experienced.”
The Revs compiled a record of 9-17-8 (35 pts.), finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference and 18 points out of the final playoff spot. Most notably, the Revs struggled through a club-record 10-game winless run through July and August as they continued the quest to find their identity.
But a pair of victories to close the season highlighted the team’s growth through those trying summer months. By season’s end, the Revs had improved their overall point total (from 28 to 35), almost doubled their win total (from five to nine) and conceded 14 fewer goals (from 58 to 44) compared to 2011.
“I think on the whole we have to look at it as a step forward,” said Chris Tierney. “I think we stepped forward in terms of the way we approached the game and our style of play. I think we played more exciting soccer this year. Whether or not that turned into results, I’m not sure. But I think we played more attractive soccer, played with more confidence and on the whole I think we approached it more professionally in terms of off-the-field stuff.”
Tierney noted the positive influence of Nick Downing – brought in as the Revolution’s first-ever strength and conditioning coach – and an increased focus on film study, both aided by the construction of a new workout facility and video room adjacent to the club’s locker room.
Just as important as the steps forward were the missteps, because only in those situations were the Revs able to accurately pinpoint exactly where they need greatest improvement.
“If you look at the way we lost games, it was one big mistake,” said Tierney. “It wasn’t teams completely dominating us. It’s just experience and learning how to not make the big mistake at the wrong time, and that’s something that comes only by making those mistakes.”
Of course, mistakes only prove beneficial if you learn from them, which is now one of the Revolution’s primary objectives as the club begins making preparations ahead of 2013.
“We’ve seen how the staff works and we’ve seen the chemistry that we have thus far,” said Guy. “I think if a few changes are made – and that’s really what the offseason is about – I think we have a really, really bright future.”