CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – Preseason prep is well and truly underway for the New England Revolution, who touched down in the Grand Canyon State on Tuesday afternoon to kick off a 10-day stay.
This is the first of two extended trips to Arizona – the Revs will also spend two weeks in Tucson for the Desert Diamond Cup in late February – and it sets the groundwork for a productive preseason.
As the Revolution’s first full day of training in Casa Grande winds to a close, here are a few news and notes from the start of camp.
Casa Grande stay front-loaded with training, back-loaded with games
Eat, train, sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat.
That’s essentially the Revolution’s schedule for the first week here in Casa Grande, where the coaching staff has the players running through two-a-day training sessions at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
This will likely be the only time the Revs utilize two-a-days this preseason, but it’s critical in these early days as players fight to regain their fitness and sharpness after a long offseason.
“It’s definitely important to physically get back up to speed,” said Scott Caldwell. “Whatever we lost in the offseason – hopefully not much – but physically kind of get fit again.
“Then also, as a team, we have to build that cohesiveness again and really get ready to play these games, and really ultimately just be ready for the season.”
The games Caldwell references are a trio of preseason scrimmages scheduled for the final four days of the Revolution’s trip. They’ll play the San Jose Earthquakes (Feb. 3), FC Dallas (Feb. 4) and the Vancouver Whitecaps (Feb. 6) before heading back to Foxborough the evening of the sixth.
Trio of trialists join camp in Casa Grande, including a five-year MLS veteran
New England bolstered their backline with the additions of Sambinha and Jordan McCrary in recent days, but the club is still looking to add further reinforcements ahead of the 2016 campaign.
At the moment there are eight unsigned players in Revolution camp, including 2016 SuperDraft selections Michael Gamble and Femi Hollinger-Janzen, and 2015 rostered players Tyler Rudy and Trevor Spangenberg. USL defender Josh Phillips is also in camp after training with the Revs last season.
Three more players joined camp here in Casa Grande, including Jeb Brovsky, who has totaled more than 100 appearances in MLS with the Whitecaps, Montreal Impact and New York City FC. He’s joined by Southern New Hampshire defender Dominic Samuel and Fairfield goalkeeper Matt Turner.
New England’s full preseason roster can be accessed here.
Extended preseason trips key for training … and camaraderie
Objective number one of the Revolution’s stay in Casa Grande is to build a fitness base and progressively improve sharpness ahead of the Desert Diamond Cup in late February.
Objective number two is all about team unity.
Grande Sports World, where the Revs have set up shop for the next 10 days, has everything the team needs throughout the course of their stay: a hotel, meals, fitness facilities and pristine fields.
It’s also remote, which means that the players have no choice but to spend every waking moment with each other, whether that’s on the field, in the gym, or simply relaxing in their rooms.
And that, in fact, is a bit by design.
“When you get into a situation where we’re all together and it’s pretty remote, the bonds form and the guys do things together,” Heaps said. “They eat together, they go to the movies together. There’s a real nice camaraderie forming.”
Agudelo’s attempted bicycle kick leads to one of the lighter moments of day one
We’ve all seen Juan Agudelo’s audacious bicycle kick from last year’s playoffs.
Actually, we’ve all seen it about a million times. Let’s make it one million and one.
But when he attempted a similar skill on Wednesday morning, it didn’t quite come off. It wasn’t a disaster by any means, but after settling with his chest and launching into an overhead kick, Agudelo sent his effort comfortably over the crossbar.
Teammate Teal Bunbury couldn’t resist a bit of banter at Agudelo’s expense. “It’s a little too early for that one,” Bunbury joked on day five of preseason.
It’s okay, Juan. We’ll let you save those for the playoffs.