New England Soccer Today

Heaps’ staff takes shape

The New England Revolution today announced the additions of three members to new head coach Jay Heaps’ staff. Jay Miller joins Heaps as his primary assistant, while former Revolution defender Nick Downing was named strength and conditioning coach and Scott Emmens was hired as the team’s equipment manager.

Miller fills the role of a veteran assistant coach after Heaps talked of wanting to bring experience to his staff. Miller has worked as a coach and player evaluator for over 30 years at various levels including as head coach for various U.S. Youth National Team programs, where he coached the likes of former Revs great Taylor Twellman, and as a head coach at the collegiate level with University of Tampa and University of South Florida. He also served as U.S. Soccer’s National Coaching Coordinator from 1994-2002.

“I’m very excited to work with Jay to build a season-long, tactical approach that improves us each week,” Heaps said. “I knew I wanted to bring a highly experienced, tactically-minded coach, and in Jay, he’s a coach who’s coached at – and succeeded at – every level of the game with a wide range of players. I believe he’ll provide a solid foundation for our team, both on the practice field and in games.”

In 2008, Miller began working with the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Soccer as a sports envoy for the game of soccer, traveling to Morocco (2008), Bolivia (2009) and most recently, Thailand (2010). Miller continues to serve as a national staff instructor for U.S. Soccer’s coaching schools.

Downing, who joins the team as strength and conditioning coach, was a Revs defender from 2001-2003 after being drafted as a Project-40 player out of Maryland in the second round, 21st overall, of the 2001 MLS SuperDraft. Downing also played for the Portland Timbers and Charleston Battery, both of the A-League, before retiring in 2004. He then became certified as a personal trainer from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, plus additional certifications from USA Track & Field, Functional Movement Systems and Kettlebell Concepts, and started a career as a strength and conditioning coach in 2005.

“Nick is the perfect person to be our first strength and conditioning coach,” Heaps said. “With his combination of high-level playing experience and his fitness expertise, he knows what soccer players go through physically and what they need to do to succeed on the field throughout the long season. His approach and his work with our players off the field will be vital to our success this year.”

Downing’s brief career with the Revs saw him feature in 17 league games, including a brief three minute appearance in goal in an emergency situation that saw the defender forced to make a save. He also started one of the matches in the Revs run to the 2001 U.S. Open Cup and made his final Revolution appearance in an August 27th, 2003, 2-1 overtime loss to the Metrostars in the 2003 US Open Cup Quarterfinals.

Downing was a member of the U.S. Youth National Team programs, captaining the U.S. U-17 team at the 1997 FIFA U-17 World Championship. That U.S. U-17 team was coached by Miller and featured former Revolution players Taylor Twellman, Mashall Leonard and Kyle Singer.

Emmens, the Revolution’s new equipment manager, spent the 2010 season with the Chicago Red Stars, formerly of Women’s Professional Soccer, as the team’s equipment and practice facility manager before the team ceased operations. The Connecticut native has a degree in sports management from Endicott College.

The Revolution is still seeking a second assistant coach.

5 Comments

  1. Chris B

    January 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I’m liking these moves, kind of a lot actually! I’ll try to reserve all judgment until the season gets underway though! You may be writing an opinion article about it but what do you think Sean? Team Jay for the win (Heaps and Miller!)

    • Sean Donahue

      January 5, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      They look like positive moves to me. I know people will complain that Miller doesn’t have MLS experience, but I like what he brings to the table. I think his background should help with college scouting, something that seems to have been lacking since John Murphy left, so I’ll be looking for improved SuperDraft results. Additionally, his experience should help him design more productive practices then we’ve seen recently.

      I also really like the Downing move. He seemed like a great guy back when he was on the team, so it’s good to have him back in the organization.

      • Chris B

        January 5, 2012 at 7:15 pm

        I know. I was shocked when I saw people like Kyle McCarthy from the Herald/MLSsoccer.com tweeting that these weren’t good moves because of no previous MLS experience. However, taking into account Miller’s great experience with US youth, Heaps’ knowledge of the league from playing in it and watching it as a commentator, and the fact that there is still another assistant to be named, there seems like there will be a lot of good mixtures between new ideas and different areas of experience on the coaching staff which I think is great but, again, I will try not to get too happy about it until we see some results.

        I’ll only ask a final question that probably doesn’t have a solid answer by far but: given that the new assistant has so much youth experience, would you be surprised if the Revs went with a unexpected pick with the 3rd overall spot? I know a ton will come down to the combine, but I kinda feel like the Revs, even with the old coaching staff, made some intriguing picks and will probably do that again, leaving a lot of people saying “really, they had 3rd pick and they took him so early”?

        • Sean Donahue

          January 6, 2012 at 9:58 am

          That’s a tough one to predict, but my initial guess is we’ll see less bizarre moves, like trading up to get Wells Thompson, with the new coaching staff. But like I said, it’s just a guess.

  2. John

    January 7, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Not sure how I feel exactly about Miller. Trying to come around on this. First impression is that he came cheap. But I see his value in drafting and helping with the younger players. This staff seems geared towards the American youth, (that’s not necessarily a bad thing).
    Not sure how they, (both Jay’s), will be perceived by established internationals, or how they, (internationals), will be motivated by the Jay’s. (Note: that’s if we ever get another one, or keep one beyond 6 months).
    I Would still like Revs to have someone older on staff that has professional coaching/scouting experience, here and abroad.

Leave a Reply to Chris B Cancel reply