FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The first month-and-a-half of the 2019 season has not gone according to plan for the New England Revolution. A trio of rare home losses have contributed to a frustrating 1-5-1 start as the Revs have struggled to find the back of the net on a consistent basis.
Those results have no doubt left players and coaches vexed, but with six months and 27 games still on the docket – not to mention several recent examples of turnaround success stories in MLS – the Revs are keeping their heads up and their eyes forward as they prepare to continue their three-game homestand on Saturday night against the New York Red Bulls (7:30 p.m., TICKETS).
“It’s obviously difficult as players, because you want to win every game and you want to perform well,” admitted Teal Bunbury, who was part of a Revolution side that overcame an eight-game losing streak in 2014 en route to an MLS Cup appearance. “When those things aren’t happening, it’s a little bit tougher, in all honesty.
“But spirits are still up. We know we have a lot of games still to play, and we know that we can still get the best out of each other. I think making sure that we keep our spirits up and continue to work hard is going to make that easier.”
Much of the onus for keeping spirits up falls on the veteran leaders in the locker room – players like Bunbury, Scott Caldwell, Andrew Farrell, Jalil Anibaba, Brad Knighton, and captain Michael Mancienne, who’ve lived through enough of the ups and downs to know that fortunes change quickly in this game.
Those fortunes, however, don’t change on their own. A turnaround requires sweat, drive, intensity, and desire, all woven together by an underlying belief.
“We’ve got great players in the changing room, and we know we can turn it around,” said Mancienne, who’ll return from a one-game suspension this weekend. “We know things haven’t been going our way recently, but we’ve just got to stay positive. Things in football change all the time.
“We’ve just got to keep everyone working hard in training – keep everyone motivated and positive.”
Head coach Brad Friedel and his staff are also tasked with keeping spirits high and players driven, but he acknowledges that some of that drive must come from within the locker room and the leaders on the field with the experience to instill belief in their teammates.
“It’s invaluable, to be honest with you,” Friedel said of having locker-room leaders. “The more leaders that you can sign at a club, the better off things are, that’s for sure.
“It’s only seven games into the season – there’s a lot of points on the table, and back-to-back wins changes a lot of things and a lot of people’s mentalities, so it’s very important that the staff stays positive, and very important that the players in [the locker room] stay positive, and you do need leaders to be able to do that.”