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Revs set to kick off home slate

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There's no place like home, and that sentiment rings especially true for the Revolution as they get set to kick off their 2013 home slate on Saturday.

Following a three-week stretch that saw them sit on their hands during a first-week bye, encounter travel issues en route to Chicago for the season opener, then play through raw and windy conditions in Philadelphia last week, there's no doubt that the local XI are looking forward to playing in front of a friendly crowd.

While Revolution head coach Jay Heaps is glad that his team is able to "get on their own field and sleep in their own beds" this weekend, he isn't about to think that Saturday's game will be a walk in the park.

"There's definitely a comfort level," Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. "But there's also a level of intensity that has to be represented when you're defending your home field."

Last year, Heaps preached the importance of playing well at home, and the Revolution responded with a 7-4-6 home mark, which included a 5-1-3 first-half record at Gillette Stadium.

While the second half of the 2012 season saw the club struggle -- the Revs went 2-3-3 run after a 2-0 win vs. New York on July 8 -- Revolution center back AJ Soares insists that the team remains confident going into Saturday's game.

"We're good at home, that's the truth," Soares said. "This is a tough place for teams to come and play, so I think we're going to go out there and take the game to them."

FEILHABER RETURNS

Three months after the he was traded to Sporting K.C., ex-Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber makes his return to Gillette Stadium this weekend.

During his two seasons in Foxboro, the Brazilian-born playmaker collected five goals and added nine assists in 52 games. Even though Feilhaber drew criticism for his fiery, on-the-pitch persona, Revolution midfielder Ryan Guy was quick to point out that his former teammate wasn't the only player who vented his frustrations about the team's struggles during the last two seasons.

"I did see that, but it was never any more or less than anyone else," Guy said. "Nobody's happy (about losing) and more than other people, he may have been more boisterous about that."

Guy said that as outspoken as Feilhaber was, teammates "appreciate that just as much as you appreciate a guy who shuts his mouth," and that off the field, Feilhaber is "a character" who has "a dry sense of humor."

Although Guy wanted to see Feilhaber stay in Foxboro, he couldn't help but believe that the trade was for the best.

"I think, more than anything, I was happy for him," Guy said about the trade. "As much as I hate to see him go, it was nice to see him land on his feet."

KEEPING IT SIMPLE

Although New England went an even .500 during their two-game road trip to open the season, Heaps hinted that he generally liked what he saw.

"We felt we did well in large portions of those games," Heaps said. "We just have to be tighter on certain areas of the game and when you're playing against an opponent like Kansas City, you have to be ready for what they're going to do."

Set pieces and winning second balls appear to be two areas New England can benefit from improving upon, especially in the wake of a 1-0 loss to the Union last week.

Nevertheless, Heaps doesn't want his club straying from what they do well -- namely, building from the back and stopping the opposition cold inside the defending third.

"Your strengths are your strengths," Heaps said. "You have to use those whenever you can."