FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Roughly 36 hours after news broke that New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps had been fired before the end of his sixth season in charge, those who remained with the club stressed acceptance and accountability.
For example, defender Andrew Farrell said Heaps’ dismissal reflects upon the players’ inability to get results. And with Tom Soehn in charge on an interim basis over the final five games of the season, he knows others could be following Heaps to the exit.
“Now it’s an audition for everyone, whether it’s Tommy with the head coaching job, or all the players here,” Farrell told MLSsoccer.com. “Obviously it wasn’t good enough up to this point, and now we have five games to audition for whether we’ll be here next year or not.”
Midfielder Scott Caldwell struck a similar chord, saying that he and his teammates largely feel responsible for Heaps losing his job.
The nail in the coffin for Heaps was a two-game road swing that saw them lose to Atlanta United FC and Sporting Kansas City by a combined 10-1 score, suffering three first-half red cards along the way. And as he departs, New England stands seven points out of playoff spot, with an abysmal 0-12-3 road record and a minus-six goal differential overall.
“Realistically there shouldn’t be much change because guys should always be playing for their jobs all the time,” Caldwell told MLSsoccer.com. “That’s what guys are still doing now. But we do have change, it’s unfortunate circumstances and we put this on ourselves. These last five games, we have to prove our worth.”
Soehn said he's met with the team as a group and with players and individually to check that heads are in the right place as the regular season comes to a close.
“I still say that everyone had a part in losing our manager and everyone has a piece of that,” Soehn said. “While it won’t help [Heaps] anymore, I’ve asked of everyone to pull together through a time like this. Through difficult times you find special things out of people, and that’s what we have to ask of everyone right now.”
Accountability for falling short is one thing, though, and figuring out why it's happening is another.
Caldwell and Farrell said it’s hard to pinpoint one specific area, and instead highlighted a larger theme of failing to make plays in the “little moments,” which then add up to bigger holes that eventually become impossible to dig out of.
“For us, we’re a team where if we punch first we’re really good, but if we get punched first it takes some time to get back into the flow of things,” Farrell said. “There have been moments where it’s hit us at the worst time possible and it keeps on [happening] over and over again. We shoot ourselves in the foot and it’s tough.”
Added Caldwell: “It’s individual moments where we aren’t able to right the wrong when we do make a mistake. Then we haven't been able to collectively improve our team after that bad moment.”