The New England Revolution didn’t have to look far to replace Steve Nicol. After several reports emerged on Monday indicating that the Revs would hire former defender Jay Heaps as their new head coach, the club made it official on Tuesday.
Heaps, 35, becomes the sixth coach in club history and the second-youngest head coach in Major League Soccer behind D.C. United’s Ben Olsen. Before retiring in 2009, he played 11 seasons in MLS and nine in New England (2001-2009), ending his career as the club’s longest-tenured player and all-time leader in games played (243), starts (238) and minutes played (21,619).
Heaps assumes control of a squad that finished last in the Eastern Conference in 2011 (5-16-13, 28 points) and tied for the league’s worst overall record with the Vancouver Whitecaps under the guidance of Nicol.
The native New Englander will be presented in a formal press conference at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday at Gillette Stadium.
Following his retirement, Heaps worked as a club ambassador and color analyst on New England’s television and radio broadcasts. He has no MLS coaching experience, but did spend three seasons as a volunteer assistant coach with Boston College and Northeastern (2004-2006) during his playing days.
New England’s hope is that the local legend can usher in a new era similar to the one he helped build as a standout defender. Heaps began his career with the Miami Fusion – where he won MLS Rookie of the Year – before arriving in New England in June 2001. The Nashua, N.H., native played an integral role in the Revs’ four MLS Cup appearances (2002, '05. '06 and '07) and was one of three players to start all four of those games.
Heaps earned four caps with the US national team, with each of those appearances coming during the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He made his international debut against Haiti in front of a hometown crowd at Gillette Stadium.