FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Wednesday afternoon’s reveal of the complete MLS is Back Tournament schedule officially put a countdown clock on the New England Revolution’s return to action.
New England’s Group C opener against the Montreal Impact is set for 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 9, giving them exactly two more weeks to prepare for that match, which is one of three games the Revs will play in Orlando that will count towards the MLS regular-season standings.
Preparations for that tournament, of course, are already well underway, as the Revs were cleared to return to full-team training beginning on June 8, and they’ve spent the past two-and-a-half weeks building their way towards full fitness and sharpening their focus ahead of that early July restart.
“We’re making progress as a team,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “Our fitness level is improving. We’re growing into a team. We’re having a better understanding of our players and the things that they do well, and perhaps don’t do well.
“Every day we work on those issues, and I’ve seen – over the last two or three weeks – a lot of progress. Hopefully by the time our opening game comes around in Orlando, we’ll put a good team on the field.”
The current training period has mirrored preseason in some regards – players have built a fitness base while the coaching staff has assessed the squad and worked on philosophies and tactics – but it’s also been different in several ways.
One significant difference is the absence of friendly matches, so the Revs have been getting their 11-v-11 work in against each other with increased intra-squad scrimmages.
“You can never replicate a game in a practice setting, but we do as much as we can 11-v-11 to prepare our team, both tactically and fitness-wise for full games,” said Arena. “We work real hard at it, but certainly when we get to Orlando it’s going to be different. Hopefully we’ve put in enough training and we have enough understanding as a team to deal with those issues when the tournament comes around.”
Andrew Farrell, who recently signed a new multi-year contract to keep him in New England long term, is confident that the Revs will be ready to go when they step onto the field to face the Impact on July 9, which will end a 125-day hiatus since their last match against Chicago Fire FC on March 7.
“Everybody’s ready to go, everybody’s excited,” said Farrell. “Everybody’s looking sharp. The fitness is getting up. We’re playing a lot more minutes in our intra-squad scrimmages. But guys are sharp, guys are ready to go. I know I’m really excited to compete, like I’ve said to the team. That’ll be a fun aspect of being in tournament mode.”
Following their Group C opener against the Impact, the Revs will face D.C. United at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, and Toronto FC at 9 a.m. ET on Tuesday, July 21.
A full broadcast schedule for the MLS is Back Tournament can be found HERE.