New England Soccer Today

Mixing It Up

Revs trialist Björn Runström could see more action on Wednesday. (Photo: Joshua Pearson)

Winning the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup was never really a goal for the New England Revolution, but they could just end up doing so anyways. With one game remaining, the Revs, at 2-0-0, are in great shape to clinch a spot in the final.

But if there was any thought the allure of a potential preseason trophy would cause new head coach Jay Heaps to veer from his plans in preparation for the MLS regular season, don’t bet on it.

Heaps’ thus far heavy use of key players such as Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber and Kelyn Rowe was planned to help get the players ready for the grind of the MLS season. Of course rest and health is important too, so those three, and others that have featured heavily, are unlikely to play Wednesday, according to Heaps.

“It’s been designed from the beginning,” said Heaps on Sunday. “We wanted to get a lot of guys minutes Wednesday because it was our first time out, and [Saturday] was really what we were going for, 90 minutes.”

“This Wednesday … those guys who got 90 this past Saturday will not play,” he continued. “And we’re going to go into Saturday so we want to get onto that Saturday/Saturday schedule that the season presents.”

The tournament has provided Heaps a chance to get his likely starters 90 minutes match fit, while also slowly building fitness for guys who may be a bit behind in training, such as new French striker Saër Sène. For positions in the starting eleven that are not yet set in stone, Heaps has had a chance to test out players and trialists with liberal substitutions.

On Wednesday, while Heaps rests some of his key players, the rest of the roster and trialists will benefit with a chance to not only gain more match fitness, but also potentially impress the coaching staff and move up the depth chart with longer appearances. In the case of the trialists, like striker Björn Runström, who was originally scheduled to end his trial on Sunday, but extended his stay through Thursday, it’s another chance to earn a contract.

Of course implementing such a strategy on Wednesday isn’t ideal to winning against 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League Finalists Real Salt Lake. But, a few months from now, who cares what a team won in the preseason?

If the Revs care about preseason winns, it’s only as a means to build positive habits heading into the season, not to win an essentially meaningless preseason cup. Despite that, the Revs may well find themselves in the championship match on Saturday. At 2-0-0 in the Desert Diamond Cup, the Revs sit atop group play and even with a loss to Salt Lake could likely make the final.

And should they face a chance at a trophy on Saturday, they’ll be in good shape to win it. Heaps rested starters should see a return to action on Saturday, though it’s to build preparation for the game a week grind of MLS, not to give his team the best chance of winning – that’s just a side effect.

So if the Revs, resting some key players in Wednesday’s 8 p.m. match-up with Real Salt Lake, find themselves with their first defeat of the preseason, it’s not the end of the world. If Heaps learns which trialists to sign, or that a reserve player is ready for first team action, that’s far more import that the scoreline.


  1. Chris B

    February 29, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Sean, do you know if the two players ejected from RSL’s last game are able to play against the Revs or are they suspended?

    • Sean Donahue

      February 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      They are available to play for RSL tonight.

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