FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When Jay Heaps and his staff identified areas in which the New England Revolution needed improvement ahead of the 2013 season, road form was near the top of the list.
The Revs were a combined 3-22-9 away from home in 2011 and 2012; startling figures even for MLS, which generates one of the world’s most distinct home-field advantages with its travel requirements and time zones.
With sights set firmly on a return to the postseason, Heaps and the Revolution’s technical staff went about shaping a squad better equipped for the rigors of the road.
“It was something we wanted; something by design,” Heaps said. “We needed to be better on the road than last year, so we added some experience in Jose (Goncalves). But also, I think the younger players that were here last year grew up a little bit.”
Whatever the formula, it’s working. The Revs have one of the league’s strongest road records this season at 4-6-5 (17 pts.), which almost matches the 18 points they picked up on the road the past two years combined. Entering this weekend, only the Portland Timbers (2-4-10) and Sporting Kansas City (7-5-4) have fewer road losses.
The turnaround could be attributed to a number of factors, but Lee Nguyen believes it’s all about the Revolution’s confident approach after gaining valuable experience in recent years.
“I think it’s just our mentality,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys, but they’re not scared of going into another place. A lot of the guys have been together already for two seasons, so we’ve had that experience of going away and trying to get victories. It’s nothing new to us now.”
Goncalves agrees that an assured mindset has been key to the improved road form, which the Revs will rely upon this weekend when they head to Stade Saputo for a critical meeting with the Montreal Impact.
“I think you must be very confident when you go on the road and you take a point,” said the Revolution captain. “That’s what we’ve done. Every point we take away is a huge point and it’s because we’ve had a lot of confidence. We have to have the same attitude for Saturday’s game.”