FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Consider it a feeling-out period.
While hopes were high, realistic expectations were somewhat tempered during the 2012 season as the New England Revolution adjusted to the sheer newness of everything. A new coaching staff. A new philosophy. A new playing style. An influx of new players. Even a new locker room.
For those reasons, the 2012 campaign should be considered the starting point for the Revolution’s resurgence. But as the calendar now inches toward December and into 2013 – and the second year of the Jay Heaps era – expectations change.
“Coming into [this past] season, hopes were high. It was more hopes than anything. I think expectations were not quite as high,” admitted midfielder Ryan Guy. “But now coming into next year there’s absolutely going to be expectations. We expect a lot more out of ourselves and we hope others expect a lot more out of us, as well.”
The Revs spent much of the 2012 season simply figuring things out. Heaps and the technical staff required time to identify a core group of players and begin building around them. The players required time to adjust to Heaps’ methods after 10 years under the guidance of Steve Nicol. And the players needed time to adjust to each other.
But familiarity will be a key word when the Revs open 2013 preseason camp in mid-January. After turning over more than half the roster between 2011 and 2012, changes will be limited to a few key areas this offseason, meaning the players will need less time to form bonds. Perhaps more importantly, strong bonds have already been formed between the players and Heaps.
“I think we’ll definitely come into preseason more comfortable next year just knowing what to expect without having Jay as a new, first-year coach,” said Chris Tierney. “We’ll be looking forward to playing with players that we’ve actually played with before and continue to develop those on-field relationships.”
Building upon the foundation laid in 2012, the Revs have already added more veteran leadership both in the locker room and in midfield with the signings of Kalifa Cisse and Andy Dorman, while further reinforcements are expected along the backline. Come January the objective will be to seamlessly integrate those additions with the core already in place as the Revs set their sights on a return to the postseason.
“We have a core group of guys in here now that Jay has shown faith in,” said Tierney. “It’s a group of guys that I think Jay feels has a lot of potential going forward. Everyone here wants to be a part of that. We’re all excited and proud to be Revolution players and we’re excited about the direction that this club is heading.”