New England Soccer Today

Managing Expectations

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Jay Heaps doesn’t like to think too far ahead. The bigger picture can wait. The smaller one? Well, that’s another story entirely.

Less than seven weeks after brushing off the stray pieces of blue and gold confetti that showered the LA Galaxy at the end the MLS Cup final, Heaps and his players were back on the training grounds for the first time on Friday – and in no hurry to talk about setting their sights on a title.

“You go over the steps to get there,” Heaps said. “(But) if you start by saying ‘We’re going win MLS Cup,’ then you’ve already lost. For us, we look at the small steps and what we need to do, and right now, we’re focused on today’s session.”

The one-day, one-game and one-play at a time mantra has long served as the de facto mindset of the Revolution since Heaps was hired back in late 2011. This year, though, it may be needed more than ever.

The Revolution enter preseason camp as more than just favorites to return to the MLS Cup final: some are predicting a championship. A championship that has eluded the club as far back as Heaps’ playing days. But no pressure, of course.

In fact, some pundits are saying that anything less than a trophy will be a disappointment given the expectations set by last year’s late-season sprint to the finish. So the tunnel vision Heaps has impressed over the years will be key to keeping an even keel throughout the season.

“We’re taking it day-by-day,” Revolution defender Chris Tierney said. “What happened last year – I’m over it, we’re over it now. It’s a new year, and a new set of goals, last year really doesn’t matter going into Day 1 of this year.”

The biggest goal? Finding more consistency. Last year, the Revolution stumbled out of the gate, then quickly caught fire during the middle of the spring (5-0-2) before slumping during the summer (0-8-0). It took a sensational, late-season surge (9-1-1) to catapult them into the postseason.

“We want to avoid that,” Heaps said in reference to the summer swoon that saw his club lose eight straight. “We want to have a season with very little dips, or extreme dips.”

Avoiding some of the valleys the Revolution journeyed through last season won’t be easy. Tierney, who’s endured some of the club’s leaner years earlier in his career, knows that the opposition will be gunning for the Eastern Conference champions every week in order to make a statement.

“The top performing teams always have a target on their back,” Tierney said. “So it’s going to be difficult for us. Teams got to see a lot of us down the stretch, so we’ll have to be able to adjust on the fly, we’ll have to use our depth, and we’ll have to find ways to get wins.”

Finding ways to win won’t be as easy as it was last season. With a shorter offseason to work with, no World Cup break, and the possible mid-summer call-ups of Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen for the Gold Cup, the 2015 season may be an even tougher gauntlet than the one the Revolution navigated last year.

But Heaps isn’t concerned about that at the moment. He’s not thinking about the summer, the fall, or the 2015 MLS Cup final, for that matter.

“(We’re focused on) what we’re going to do in terms of (building up) of our fitness,” Heaps said, “and what we’re going through the season, and knock off goals in terms of segments rather than just picking one target.”

Leave a Reply