Believe it or not, but the New England Revolution have already reached the halfway point of their preseason schedule.
While the club hasn’t yet found the win column this winter (0-2-1), head coach Jay Heaps appears to be more concerned with how his club is coming together on the pitch.
“I want to really give our new guys some time,” Heaps said in a conference call with the media on Thursday night. ”Guys like Jose (Goncalves), guys like Kalifa (Cisse), (Andy) Dorman, guys like Andrew Farrell, guys who are on trial like Donnie Smith; guys who are going to make impacts for us. But it’s important for us to use this time to determine who those guys are going to be.”
After using the first three games to get his players fit, it’s clear Heaps isn’t ready to fill out his First Kick lineup just yet.
“Right now we’re still evaluating who’s going to be our starting 11,” Heaps said. (And) what formation we’re going to play that gives us the best chance to win.”
Meanwhile, Heaps indicated that Saturday may yield more clues to who’s pulling away from the pack.
“Now, as we get closer to these last three games, you’re going to start to see guys play, get more than 45 minutes,” Heaps said. “It’s going to be 60 to 75 minutes per game. We’re going to start to try to put together the starting 11 that we feel is going to be best for us. ”
FARRELL, JESIC IMPRESS AGAINST SOUNDERS
Despite the pushing, shoving and late tackling seen throughout Wednesday’s contest against Seattle, it wasn’t a complete wash for a pair of promising Revolution prospects.
First round pick Andrew Farrell, who was stationed at right back, found himself matched up against the elusive Steve Zakuani for the first frame.
While Farrell blanketed Seattle’s speed merchant well, the former Louisville defender tipped his cap toward his teammates for helping him out.
“Before the game, I talked to A.J. (Soares) and all the veterans on the backline were saying just be aware of his pace and he’s a good player,” Farrell said. ”So it wasn’t just me, but a lot of the defenders were helping me shut him down, and our defensive midfield.”
Another player who made a favorable impression was trialist Marko Jesic, who saw action up top in the second half.
Even though the Newcastle United Jets (Australian A-League) striker endured a lengthy cross-Pacific flight to get to Tucson, Heaps praised Jesic’s efforts against the Sounders.
“Marko did a nice job for us,” Heaps said. “We asked him to go in there and cause havoc for us, play as a false “9” and a second forward and he did a nice job. He had a couple of chances to score and just missed his chances.”
THE RED CARDS THAT WEREN’T
Following Osvaldo Alonzo’s late challenge on Chris Tierney in the 36th minute, many thought referee Juan Guzman wouldn’t hesitate to dismiss the Sounders central midfielder, who was already on a yellow prior to the tackle.
Instead, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid was allowed to sub off Alonzo, while Clyde Simms jawed with a host of Seattle players in the aftermath of the tackle.
Preseason hijinx? Not exactly, according to Heaps.
“Before the game,” Heaps said. ”Sigi and I, with the referee, discussed that we didn’t want guys thrown out of the game because that would have been the worst thing in the first half to have to us play 10 versus 10 or 11 versus 10.”
Yet, even with that agreement in place, confusion ensued shortly after an injured Tierney, whom Heaps said suffered a severe ankle sprain, was helped back to the bench.
“We were dealing with his injury, which was pretty severe to Chris, and then Clyde, unbeknownst to me, was asked to leave the field,” Heaps said. “I never saw Clyde go to the bench, so for about two minutes there, we actually played 11 versus nine.”
Down a goal with the first half coming to close, it was a situation the second-year head coach was none too pleased with.
“We didn’t want to send in someone for Tierney’s replacement right away. We wanted Tyler (Polak) to get the ample warm-up and then I looked over and saw Clyde had been asked to leave,” Heaps said. “Hence, more frustration.”