MARBELLA, Spain – Let the games begin.
The New England Revolution will kick off their eight-match preseason slate on Thursday morning, when they’ll take on Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua FC in Marbella, Spain (5 a.m. ET). There will be no live stream of the match, but the club will provide updates via Twitter (@NERevolution) and produce a highlight package after the game.
Having spent the past five days training in Marbella – and the previous five working in Foxborough – the players are ready to test themselves in a game situation, and begin putting the lessons they’ve learned on the training ground into action against live competition.
“(It’s about) building chemistry, building camaraderie, getting everybody on the same page, understanding the way that we’re going to play, the way that we’re going to attack, and the way that we’re going to defend,” said Jalil Anibaba. “It’s just getting everybody on the same page and making sure that everybody knows what’s expected of them.
“Once that’s understood, it’s a matter of everybody performing to their best ability.”
Thursday’s opener against Shanghai Shenhua FC begins a stretch of three games in four days for the Revs, who’ll also face Czech side FC Viktoria Plzeň (Friday, 9 a.m. ET) and Russian power FC Krasnodar (Sunday, 5 a.m. ET) in short order.
While the first two matches will be as much about building fitness as anything else, head coach Brad Friedel said the final two friendlies in Spain – which also include a meeting with perennial Champions League competitor FC Dynamo Kyiv next Wednesday (9 a.m. ET) – will begin to shape the squad as they build towards the season opener against FC Dallas on March 2.
“The next two days, most everyone will play 45 minutes in each game,” Friedel said of the matches against Shanghai Shenhua FC and FC Viktoria Plzeň. “It’s just part of our structure on where we want to get the power work and the endurance work. After that, then we’ll start assembling who we want to play with each other and things of that nature.
“The first two games will be a complete mix of the players, and a lot of the young players here are impressing us, so competition for places is going to be fun to watch unfold over the next few weeks.”