FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Even a bye week offers New England a chance to continue its preparations for the remainder of the season.
Sure, there were a few moments of rest earlier in the week to permit some of the players to recover from a stretch of three games in eight days. But those deviations toward lighter fare weren't universal – the reserves spent Tuesday in Montreal, for instance – and they didn't extend through the entire week.
“Training here, it's a good week for us to prepare,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps told MLSsoccer.com. “If you noticed, we shifted things up during training to keep things fresh. We're going to push them a little bit this week and into early next week and then we'll start preparing for Columbus as we get there. These are good times to get back to our basics and our fundamentals.”
This moment in the season also represents the optimal time to reinforce those underpinnings in a novel way. Heaps said he appreciated routine work during his days as a player, but he also understood the need to inject some variety to avoid tedious repetition over the course of a long season.
“We started that process last week after the Open Cup,” Heaps said. “It was a set plan because we knew we'd have three days before the Chicago game. We're just putting new ideas in. We're making sure our guys are getting work, but we're making sure the guys are getting fresh ideas.”
By introducing a few new points this week, Heaps said he wants to keep his players focused for the challenges that lay ahead. There will be some time for the first-teamers to rest over the weekend (the reserves will travel to Columbus for a match on Sunday), but the toil won't end for a long time with a crucial stretch of games (11 out of the next 12 are against Eastern Conference opponents) looming once the break concludes.
“I don't want to give too much time off because we're right in it here,” Heaps said. “We're there. We're trying to make sure we're in the thick of a big next couple of weeks. We want to make sure the guys are ready.”