New England Soccer Today

Will Short Goals Lead Revs Back to Postseason?

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Since taking over as Revolution coach six years ago, Jay Heaps has emphasized the short-view when it comes to success over the course of an eight-month regular season. Earlier this week, Heaps stuck to that script with First Kick on tap.

Coming off a seventh-place finish in 2016, a season in which New England suffered through separate six-game winless streaks, Heaps is hoping his club’s primary focus will remain on the most important match of them all: the next one.

“There’s no question that we feel that last year was a disappointment,” Heaps told the media on Tuesday. “For me, we talk about end of the year runs and things like that, but for me, the reality is we have to focus one game at a time.”

If we’ve learned anything about the Revolution during the Heaps regime, it’s that the one-game-at-a-time cliché is just that – a cliché – unless the team can back it up.

In four of Heaps’ five years at the helm, his team has suffered lengthy letdowns, usually occurring around the summer months. The only season in which they didn’t? 2013, when the Revolution were, remarkably, only one of two MLS clubs to avoid losing streaks longer than two games (Philadelphia was the other).

The club converted that consistency into a third-place finish, and their first playoff berth in three years. Another thing that didn’t hurt the Revolution that season? Winning right out of the gate, which they did by beating Chicago in their season opener. To date, it remains the team’s lone First Kick win under Heaps.

That distant match may not have been at the forefront of Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen’s mind as he and his teammates prepared Saturday’s opener at Colorado, but the lessons learned from season-opening setbacks clearly was.

“You can see from past experiences, especially last year from when we missed out [on the playoffs] by one point, that’s crucial – especially those points away from home if we can get those,” Nguyen told the media on Tuesday. “Coming into this first game against Colorado, it’s going to be big to maximize our points.”

Getting those points at altitude after five weeks of working back to fitness won’t be easy. As if the challenge weren’t steep enough, the Rapids will return their entire backline from a season in which they limited their opponents to an MLS-low 32 goals against.

But if New England can break through Colorado’s stingy defense and start the season 1-0 like they did four years ago, then maybe – just maybe – that saying about taking the season 90 minutes at a time may not ring so hollow for the Revolution in 2017.

“(We) have our micro-goals within the season,” Heaps said, “but the reality is, starting the season, it’s difficult because we have a tough schedule, but we have to put together [with] the mindset that we can go on the road and find results.”

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