Revs Notebook: Heaps close to settling on first XI

Revolution head coach Jay Heaps instructs his players.

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of New England Revolution

Any win is a good thing when coming off a season in which you finished at the very bottom of the table. That means New England coach Jay Heaps is mostly pleased with what he saw in Wednesday's 3-2 victory over the LA Galaxy in the opener of the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Ariz.

But “mostly” isn’t “totally,” and in the way of all coaches, Heaps saw plenty on which his team needs to work.

“For us, it was a positive, we did a lot of positive things,” Heaps told reporters on a conference call on Thursday morning. “We did what we worked on, but we put ourselves in trouble with what we feel are very correctable mistakes. In the end it was a lot of good mixed in with some not so good – but at the same time – correctable.”

PRESEASON HIGHLIGHTS: NE 3-2 LA

An early bicycle kick by Benny Feilhaber provided the impetus for the Revs to register a fourth consecutive preseason victory. The manner of the performance against the MLS Cup holders provided Heaps with more information about his squad as he seeks to implement his vision for the side.

Heaps will want to see his charges erase those missteps over their next three matches at the Desert Diamond Cup. With the season opener beckoning at San Jose on March 10, the Revs need to form a coherent unit to compete week-in, week-out.

Although Heaps said he remains committed to identifying players to strengthen the squad, he has shifted a portion of his focus to that difficult task. At this juncture, he believes the opening day starting XI is nearly set.

“I would say we’re close and I think we’re getting there,” Heaps said, "and I think I would say – you want a percentage? I would say about 90 percent sure."

Minor knocks no cause for concern

Two players expected to be in that starting group did not feature against the Galaxy for precautionary reasons.

Kevin Alston (calf) and A.J. Soares (knee) watched from the sidelines on Wednesday. They returned to practice on Thursday as the Revs started to prepare for Saturday's date with New York, according to a Tweet from Revolution staff writer Jeff Lemieux.

Guy itching to return

While Alston and Soares have participated in most of the preseason activities, winger Ryan Guy has mostly watched from the sidelines.

Guy sustained a right calf strain during the Revolution's trip to Casa Grande, Ariz., in January. His first comeback attempt set him back in his recovery, but he recently received permission to return to the practice field and work on his fitness.

With the calf complaint now in the rear view mirror, Guy said he hopes to take the field at some point during this Arizona excursion.

“It’s just a matter of getting fit now,” Guy told the Revs website. “If [the coaching and training staffs] think that I’m fit and sharp enough to get on the pitch, then I’m all for it.”

New batch of trialists attempting to impress

Three of the four recently introduced trialists joined holdovers Blake Brettschneider and Jeremiah White on the field against the Galaxy.

Luisito Campisi (unattached midfielder), Florian Lechner (Karlsruher right back) and Björn Runström (unattached striker) came on as halftime substitutes. All three players toiled away for approximately half an hour before making way.

Heaps said he planned to give all three players – plus fellow trialist and unused substitute Tom Cruise (unattached defender) – some time to recover from their extensive journeys before thoroughly evaluating them as potential additions.

“You want to be fair to them you want to make sure you put them in an environment where they can succeed, but at the same time we have to expect them to really show above and beyond what we have,” Heaps said.

Supplemental draft picks Alec Purdie, Michael Roach and Rick Smith as well as local college product Gabe Mercier remain in camp as they push for a contract.