The final friendly in the New England Revolution's 11-day visit to Orlando provided an encouraging cap to the trip, according to Revolution boss Steve Nicol.
Sainey Nyassi's tally after 10 minutes secured the Revolution's 1-0 victory over FC Dallas on Wednesday, but Nicol took more positives from the manner of the performance than he did from the final outcome.
“The game – from the coaches' standpoint – was really a lot better than the past couple of games,” Nicol told MLSsoccer.com during a conference call after the match. “We haven't seen too much that we were overly carried away with anyways, but [the FC Dallas game] was certainly a lot better.”
The improvement stemmed from the natural growth inspired by the training camp schedule and the Revs' increased ability to retain possession and show some form of match fitness, according to midfielder Chris Tierney.
“It's preseason, so it takes time to get your sharpness back,” Tierney said. “I think the first two games left a little bit to be desired in terms of us keeping the ball and just being sharp, but [the Dallas game] definitely was a step forward in the right direction.”
The pending arrivals of Franco Coria and Ousmane Dabo should help the Revs continue to move forward as they prepare for the season opener in Los Angeles on March 20. Both players are set to join the squad in Foxborough when practices resume on Monday after receiving their P-1 visas during the past week.
[inline_node:329358]Although both Coria and Dabo are expected to contend for a spot in the starting XI, they represent just a pair of the handful of players still vying for a spot in Nicol's first-choice lineup.
The Florida trip handed Nicol a few ideas about who may feature in the first team, but the experienced Revolution manager said he believes there is room to alter his current notions as the club returns to New England to prepare for a trip to Kennesaw, Ga., in early March.
“There are a nucleus of players expected to start, but the one thing we don't do is close our minds off to somebody coming into the park,” Nicol said. “I don't want to put percentages on it, but the majority of the starting lineup, we have a decent idea. But a lot can happen between now and the start of the season.
"We still have games to go and players can still make a claim for a place. We're not shutting our head off to anything that might happen between now and playing LA in the first game.”
A fair amount of time to build and develop the framework of the 2011 side still remains, but Nicol said the Florida trip offered some encouraging signs as the Revs continue to work toward a finished product in time for their season-opening trip to California.
“The game as a whole, everything we did today was just so much better than anything we’d done in the previous games,” Nicol said. “Then again, preseason is about starting in one place and by the time the season rolls around, you’re in another place. So the good thing is that we did progress from the last couple of games, which is what we want to do. So from that point of view, we were pretty happy.”
MLSsoccer.com's unprecedented preseason coverage rolls on with live streams from the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. Check out the semifinal matches on Thursday when FC Dallas take on Orlando City (6 pm ET) and the Houston Dynamo take on Toronto FC (8 pm). Only on MLSsoccer.com!