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Saturday, February 8, 2014
Heaps hints Revs could add more pieces

By Brian O'Connell

The Revolution may have 29 players in camp at the moment, but that doesn't mean the roster is close to becoming a finished product. Far from it, in fact.

In a teleconference with the media on Friday morning, coach Jay Heaps hinted that he and general manager Michael Burns intend to make more moves in the not-so-distant future.

"We are actively searching for at least two pieces and I think that we feel really good where we are, but we want to be better," Heaps said. "I think we've identified where we can get better and we are going to continue to try to move along in those areas."

Heaps didn't specify which players -- or their positions, for that matter -- the club intended to secure, but it's hardly a mystery where the Revolution need help the most.

The most glaring area of need: striker. Although Jerry Bengtson and Dimitry Imbongo are currently the top candidates to fill the role, neither has distinguished himself as a go-to goal scorer during the last two seasons.

But after Juan Agudelo showed how beneficial a bona fide striker can be to a young offense, there's no doubt that the Revolution believe the answer to the question mark up top isn't currently on the roster.

Another area in need of an upgrade: defensive midfielder. Scott Caldwell admirably manned the engine room as a rookie, and the coaching staff helped him do so by asking Lee Nguyen to assume a more defensive posture last season.

Even so, the truth became clear. Caldwell and Nguyen, both attacking players by trade, weren't particularly well-suited to disrupt and dish out punishment in and around the most critical part of the pitch.

While Heaps made no secret of addressing areas of need, he wasn't about to discredit his current charges, many of whom helped the club reach the postseason for the first time in four years last season. In fact, the continuity established by the core of last year's roster is something just as integral to the club's success in 2014.

"It's also important for us to continue on the path we set from the middle of last year to the end of last year of how we are going to play (as far as) everyone's role (goes)," Heaps said. "That is something I am really, really happy with in where we are -- everyone's understanding of the system we want to play in, the tactics we want to use and how we want to play."

That understanding of the system -- as well as the confidence within that system -- is, perhaps, the most notable difference between this year's camp and last year's edition. Each returnee has a firm grasp of what his role is, as well as what else may be asked of him by the coaching staff.

The result: a sense of cohesion that's been largely absent since the likes of Taylor Twellman, Steve Ralston and Shalrie Joseph all made the Revolution one of the best teams in the East. It's a luxury that's taken the past two years to cultivate, and one that Heaps believes will be crucial to a return trip to the postseason in the autumn.

But Heaps realizes that no team improves by staying stagnant. Changes won't be made just for their own sake. Not at all. For even if the Revolution hadn't lost Agudelo to Europe, or Matt Reis to retirement, upgrades would've been necessary nonetheless.

"You are always looking to improve, and you're always looking to see how you progress," Heaps said. "I think we want to continue to add our group. I think it's going to be important over the next three-and-a-half to four weeks to add attack depth and add players to help us."