New England Soccer Today

The Desert Awaits

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After a week’s worth of training indoors at the Dana Farber Fieldhouse, the Revolution will head back to Arizona on Monday for the homestretch of preseason camp.

Although the club already has already played a pair of preseason scrimmages, Revolution coach Jay Heaps said that the four-match Desert Diamond Cup tournament is when his club is truly put to the test.

“We look forward to this tournament because it’s paced out, every Wednesday and Saturday,” Heaps told “So it gives you a good rhythm of what a season could look like, but it’s also a lot of games and some good training.”

The Revolution will kick off the 10-day tournament on Wednesday against Real Salt Lake, whom they’ll play for the second time this winter. In an 80-minute scrimmage on Jan. 31, the locals staked a 2-1 win in a match that Heaps used two very different lineups for each half.

This time around, though, don’t expect wholesale halftime changes. With the Revolution more than halfway through preseason camp, Heaps has a much better idea of how he’ll put together his regular season lineups.

“The first part is assessing everything,” Heaps said. “Not only as we build fitness, but as we get closer to the tournament, it’s starting to positionally place people for the year. Now, guys are starting to place themselves in the lineup or different areas on the roster.”

While watching the players position themselves for starting spots – or roster spots, for those on trial – will be the primary focus for the coaching staff, those who’ll step onto the pitch are looking at the tournament through a somewhat different light.

“First and foremost, the ultimate goal is to stay healthy once the Desert Diamond Cup is over and done with,” Revolution striker Charlie Davies told “I think for us to stay healthy this whole season is the most important thing. We don’t want to lose any guys to injuries, especially long-term injuries.”

It’s easy to see why Davies views the tournament in that light. Last year, he missed much of the four-match series due to a nagging calf strain, and wasn’t able to consistently contribute until the summer. Plus, with Jermaine Jones already out for first few matches of the season, staying injury-free will certainly be paramount.

But staying healthy isn’t the only concern at the forefront of the players’ mind. With the regular season just around the corner, Davies believes that the tournament is an opportunity to hone the mental focus.

“The second part is just getting fit and trying to continue our mentality which is win games ,and do what we have to do to win,” Davis said. “We play Seattle two weeks before we play them in the regular season, so that’ll be interesting.”

Two things that both the coaches and players have both agreed can improve down in Tucson is cohesion and fitness.

“We’re all not quite on the same page yet, and I don’t think everyone is quite as fit as they can be,” Davies said. “So it’s about getting fitness down and the chemistry down and just continuing to grow as a team.”

It may not look like it outside, but spring – at least to Revolution supporters – is only three weeks away. Three weeks to tighten the screws, and get back up to regular season speed. And if that also means escaping New England for a couple of weeks, then so be it.

“We’re looking forward to getting back down there so we can get out of this cold,” Revolution midfielder/defender Jeremy Hall said, with a smile.

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