FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2001, the New England Revolution enter this offseason in an unfamiliar position.
MLSsoccer.com recently sat down with Revolution coach Steve Nicol, who explained how the Revs reached this point and touched on possible changes ahead of next season.
MLSsoccer.com: After looking back at this season, where do you think things went off the road a little bit?
Nicol: From the start. When you lose your two center forwards within two weeks of preseason, it's tough to replace them. From there, we had so many different obstacles thrown at us injury-wise. You name it, we had it from missing games with boils to malaria. From the get go, we had things thrown at us that we really didn't need. We never really recovered.
MLSsoccer.com: Isn't there an impact throughout the team with Edgaras Jankauskas and Taylor Twellman sidelined?
Nicol: Absolutely. Everybody in the team has an effect on everybody else. When you don't have two guys the caliber of Taylor and big Eddie, a lot of onus was put on the young guys. It's unfair. They gave it their all and they did well, but, ultimately, they didn't have the experience to keep it all together.
MLSsoccer.com: As you guys adjusted to missing some key players and coping with those injuries, there were some high points as well. When this team was ticking over and performing as you expected for periods of the season, how did it manage to perform that way?
Nicol: I think it was straightforward. When we were winning games, we weren't making mistakes. The commitment and the attitude were great the whole season. We had no problem with that whatsoever at any stage, but when you don't have the quality consistently, you lose games. And that's what happened.
[inline_node:315300]We did put it all together on occasions and we went into every single game knowing that we had a good chance of getting three points whether it was home or away, but we just made too many mistakes. If you do that, you lose games.
MLSsoccer.com: How much of making those mistakes is down to experience and how much is just making mistakes?
Nicol: It's a combination of things. When you're not winning games, there is more pressure on you and you're more liable to make mistakes. When you're winning, everybody's focused and on their game. Everything is flowing. There are a whole bunch of things that all get put together to make things happen, whether it's good things or bad things.
MLSsoccer.com: Do you expect to see a lot of your current players back next year?
Nicol: Possibly. A lot will happen between now and the start of next season. We're going to do some scouting. We're always trying to find better players. It's an ongoing thing. Between now and the start of the season, we'll see what happens.