With the New England Revolution ready to kick off the 2012 preseason on March 10th in San Jose, odds are the team is set to hand two new forwards their debuts.
Former D.C. United striker Blake Brettschneider appears likely to be one of the beneficiaries after being unceremoniously dumped from D.C. after an impressive rookie campaign.
“I’m definitely excited to be here,” Brettschneider said. “It’s a little bit of a change from D.C., but I think it’s moving in a positive direction for me. Obviously [there is] a lot of potential here – a great staff, a great team.”
The Revs didn’t retain starting strikers Rajo Lekic and Milton Caraglio in the offseason leaving the striker spots wide open for someone like Brettschneider to step in and start on day one. With a new head coach in Jay Heaps, all positions were even more up in the air this preseason.
“I think every day you show up for practice is a chance to fight for a starting spot,” said Brettschneider. “With the unique changes that they’ve had here, it leaves a door open, but you want that competition. You want that fighting for spots day in and day out, so I think it will be a good thing for us here.”
The second-year striker out of the University of South Carolina could find himself paired up with 25-year-old French striker and former Bayern Munich reserve Saër Sène on opening day.
Brettschneider started up top along with Sène in the Revs FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup group opening 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy and again on Saturday in the preseason cup final penalty kick loss to the Galaxy, giving the pair a chance to start to learn each other’s tendencies.
“Saër’s a great player,” said Brettschneider. “Obviously he has a great background and [was] very well coached in his younger days. He’s a big guy, but he’s very skillful; very good with the ball. Typically when you see bigger guys like that they may lack that final touch, but Saër’s confident on the ball and very good and knows what he’s doing.”
“In that time that we had out in Tucson playing together I think you could see glimpses here and there of what could be a good partnership,” Brettschneider added. “But we have a lot of good players here, so you never know who is going to be matched up… if it’s Saër and me then we’re going to do our best to get a win that day.”
It’s quite the switch for Brettschneider who on February 3rd found himself without a team after being waived by D.C., despite making 15 appearances (nine starts) while tallying a goal and two assists as rookie. Ten days later Brettschneiderwas on trial with the Revs and on Tuesday earned himself a spot in the squad.
“At the time [being released] was a little bit difficult to deal with, but looking back on it, it may not be the worst thing,” said Brettscneider. “I really enjoyed my time in D.C. and was sad to go, but with this opportunity comes a fresh start – a new place to play, new fans to play for.
“I’ll always have good memories of D.C., but it’s a business and you move on and kind of roll with the punches and that’s what I intend to do,” he continued. “I do look forward to those times we play them, but we’re going to take it one game at a time and San Jose’s first this Saturday.”
For Brettschneider the transition hasn’t been too difficult. The 22-year-old noted some similarities between the two clubs with both having young rosters and young coaches. He was also pleased to find how easy it was to fit in and get along with his new teammates.
“You never know what you are going to find when you step into a new environment, but the team chemistry here and the team camaraderie is actually incredible,” he said. “There are no cliques; there are no little segments of friends here and there… If you can’t get along with your teammates and be happy around each other, I think you are in for a long season, but I think here we’ve got a great group of guys and I think it will really help us down the road.”
Now, Brettschneider is ready to kick of the 2012 season as a member of the Revolution. Though he believes the team still has some work to do, he’s pleased with what they accomplished in their most recent preseason trip to Arizona.
“Just with the last couple of games out in Tucson, you can see a lot of really positive things and a lot of things that we can build on and move forward,” he said. “We’d be crazy to tell you everything’s perfect right now though. We have plenty of things that we can work on and get better at… but I think Jay [Heaps]’ has got us headed in the right direction and I think everybody’s bought into the team mentality.
And Brettschneider believes that means the team is ready to give the fans something good to cheer for after a disastrous 2011 that saw the team finish with a record low five wins.
“I think the Revs fans have a lot of positives to look forward to and, hopefully, a very successful season,” he said.