FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England coach Jay Heaps created a long list of priorities when he took charge of the Revolution last winter. As the season winds to a close over the next couple weeks, he will have a chance to assess and measure most of them and see where the Revs stand after one year under his auspices.
Heaps will receive the final data on one of his primary benchmarks – improving the performances and results at home – when Chicago visit to complete the slate at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online). The raw leap from a franchise-worst 4-7-6 mark last year to a 6-4-6 record so far this season shows the emphasis on shoring up those displays on home turf has yielded some dividends.
“We've been in every game,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “I think that's important when you're at home, to let the other team know that you're going to try to dictate and be proactive, but, at the same time, be really tough.”
Those principles have wavered somewhat during the second half of the season due to injuries and the results have suffered accordingly (the Revs are just 1-3-3 in their past seven home matches), but the players have not relented despite the downturn in overall performances, according to Heaps.
“They knew they were playing us,” Heaps said. “I think that was the most important thing: to establish that it wasn't going to be an easy game. Obviously, we've left too many points on the table at home. We want to have more wins than draws and certainly more than losses. It's a scenario where we need to strengthen next year, but it was a good step forward.”
Chicago will attempt to interrupt that progress by becoming the first team to secure a victory by two or more goals at Gillette Stadium this year. Frank Klopas' side enters this match with plenty of incentive to collect a result and strengthen its hopes of catching Sporting Kansas City in the race for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Heaps could have A.J. Soares (right knee sprain), Chris Tierney (left knee sprain and left hamstring sprain) and Juan Toja (left knee swelling) at his disposal after all three men were listed as questionable for the encounter on the injury list released on Friday afternoon. He could use their services as he and his charges try to claim a second straight home win over the Fire and finish off the home slate in the proper fashion.
“It's a huge game for us because it's our last home game,” Heaps said. “It's a huge game for them for playoff implications and where they are going to be. I think you're going to see both teams fighting for every inch. That's always important.”