Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Revs enter camp with higher expectations
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The way New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps sees it, there’s already a decidedly different vibe to this year’s preseason camp.
Sure, there's the usual set of new faces. But every camp features rookies and offseason signings. And while it’s hard to look past the fact that Matt Reis is no longer in fold, his absence isn’t the reason why this camp is unlike its recent predecessors.
No, the distinction lies within the entire club’s mindset. Last year, the Revolution entered the preseason with a general idea of what it took to get to the postseason. This, they can speak on it from experience.
“There are more expectations,” Heaps said. “We know what it takes, and how hard it is (to make the playoffs), and the work that goes into it is tangible.”
For the past two preseasons, the up and coming squad only had a faint idea of the commitment required to reach the postseason. While the club may have had a handful of veterans who had playoff experience, the truth was that the vast majority of the squad had no clue what it took to extend the season.
But after the club mounted a furious, late-season charge that saw it go undefeated in its last six (4-0-2), the playoffs were no longer a mirage: they were a reality.
With that experience in their back pockets, the Revolution enter this year’s camp with a new mindset.
“Make sure you don’t get complacent and happy with where you’re at,” Revolution left back Chris Tierney said. “We’re always looking to move upward, improve as individuals and as a team, and I think we all feed off the improved quality that we have in the squad now.”
PEROVIC BACK IN TOWN
One of the biggest surprises of camp actually came to light right before the Revolution opened camp on Saturday.
Among the 28 players listed on the club’s preseason roster, which was released on Friday, was 2010 team MVP Marko Perovic, who enters camp as an unsigned trialist.
Perovic played for the Revolution from 2010-11 before returning to Europe, and even spending time with a team in Iran.
But after his time with OFK Beograd came to an end, Revolution general manager gave Perovic a call for a trial. It was an offer the Serbian midfielder couldn’t refuse.
“I have such good memories here, and I felt good about playing here,” Perovic said. “So I had to come back for one more (opportunity) because the people here were great to me three years ago, and of course, I had to come here one more time to (give) it my best (shot).”
TIERNEY OFFERS ADVICE TO UNSIGNED DRAFT PICKS
While the Revolution secured two of the best attacking talents of the SuperDraft by selecting Steve Neumann and Patrick Mullins in the first round, the future of the club’s two other picks is far from certain.
Unlike Neumann and Mullins, Alec Sundly(31st overall) and Pierre Omanga (50th overall) enter camp unsigned, and unsure if their pro ambitions will pan out this preseason.
But one player they can lean on for advice is Tierney, who joined the Revolution under similar circumstances in 2008. And the advice he’s offered so far is simple.
“Just (learn) how to be a part of a team, how to fit into a role within a system, and how train properly,” Tierney said. “I watched players like Taylor Twellman, Jeff Larentowicz and Shalrie Joseph -- guys that brought it every day to training. I picked up a lot about how they carried themselves, and I tried to emulate that as a young player.”