FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England recovered from their tumultuous 3-3 draw at Real Salt Lake on July 4 by doing what few MLS sides can afford to do during the dog days of summer: They took a four-day break after returning home from Utah last Tuesday.
The brief respite allowed the Revs to halt their day-to-day responsibilities, process the first half of the campaign and prepare for the second half of season.
“You definitely need some time to just take your mind off soccer and have some down time to hang out with your family,” Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “When you get down time like that, you really have a chance to reflect on the first half of the year, look at what worked, look at what didn't and take a look in the mirror and see what you can do to make this team better. I think a lot of guys did that.”
Those rare moments of introspection also gave most players the opportunity to step away from the increasing mental strain — New England currently reside in the Eastern Conference cellar and haven't posted a win in eight league matches — of a season that has failed to meet expectations.
“I like the fact that we were able to get away from the game to recharge and reset the batteries,” Revolution defender Ryan Cochrane said. “Hopefully, we'll come back out flying and we can turn this thing around in the second half because, honestly, I feel like we were trying everything. The guys were working really hard every day in practice. Sometimes, you just need to clear your mind and get away from the game.”
Some coaches prefer to use an off weekend to keep things ticking over and work through any faults, but Revolution boss Steve Nicol opted to give his players some time to rest with high-profile matches against Manchester United (Wednesday) and Philadelphia (Sunday) on the docket. Nicol said he has already seen the benefits of his decision through his squad's response upon its return to training on Sunday.
“We've had a few days off and everybody's been at it since we got back [on Sunday], which is good,” Nicol said.
Although the ultimate proof remains uncertain in the days and the weeks ahead, the Revs hope the dose of time off will ultimately yield substantive dividends on the field and in the standings.
“A little time away makes you eager to get back on [the field],” Tierney said. “In the end, I think this break will be a good thing for us and our mind set.”