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New England Revolution

Revolution a Club of Square Pegs in Round Holes



Revolution a club of square pegs in round holes

A center back at right back. A right back at left back. An attacking midfielder at right back. A brand-new formation. The captain on the bench.

These were just a few of the curiosities present in New England Revolution’s 1-2 loss to New York City FC on Sunday night.

Entering the summer transfer window the Revolution were desperate for help at fullback and congested up top. After the addition of DP defender Claude Dielna and TAM-level attacker Krisztian Nemeth, the Revs seem to be left with an unbalanced roster and a best starting XI (or even best-starting formation) that’s as clear as mud.

Against NYCFC

Last night the Revolution started with French center back Benjamin Angoua at right back, and right back/center back Andrew Farrell as a right-footed left back.  By the end of the match, Kelyn Rowe and London Woodberry made brief cameos at right back as well. That’s three different right backs, as well as a right back playing left back, for those keeping score at home.

Meanwhile, the club came out in a new 4-3-3 that stranded the Revs primary play-maker Lee Nguyen and arguably season MVP Diego Fagundez on the bench. Add in an up-to-speed Nemeth and that may leave out the red-hot Teal Bunbury with five goals in his last six games or Juan Agudelo and his eight goals on the year going forward.

While this may make for a fearsome set of attacking subs, you have wonder how players like these fight for spots, while a team with a clear injury report fields squads that feature 1-2 players out of position every match.

The past few windows appear to have not created the “competition” the club often likes to praise or true depth. Rather, the Revolution have a roster full of square pegs being shoved into round holes.

Who’s playing where?

Kelyn Rowe is currently playing more often at fullback than in the midfield this season. The recent US international came through UCLA and US youth camps as a creative number 10 and found his opportunity to play as a wide midfielder in the Revolution squad until his recent transition to the back line.

Players are often diplomatic when asked about their preferred roles- especially when they’re playing away from where the outside world perceives their natural position to be. That said, a few Revs have voiced their opinions over the past year.

“I want to play center midfield, whether it is forward or back,” Rowe told the Boston Globe in July. “It doesn’t matter. I like being in the center. Even if you don’t have the ball, you’re kind of directing everyone. You’re the guy. I like to be the guy.”

Kei Kamara has recently puzzled over his role with Revolution since his transfer from the Columbus Crew last summer.

“Maybe I wasn’t the right piece of the puzzle to help the team move forward,” Kamara said after the 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy on July 22nd. “I want to play here, I want to move forward, but if I’m not in the right system to score those goals, to move forward and to be an impact, it affects the fans because they want to see the best from me, and I want to give this club my all.”

Rumors suggested Kamara may have been moved to another club within the league this summer, but no move appeared. The DP from Sierra Leon now belongs to an even more crowded attacking corps.

Of those attackers, Juan Agudelo has seen time as the attacking tip of a diamond midfield, a sole striker, a winger and a secondary striker.

“Just put me on the field,” Agudelo said when asked about his role on the pitch by‘s ExtraTime Radio podcast last off-season. “See what happens and I’ll try to do my best wherever you put me, but I do enjoy getting the ball more often than a sole striker would be, I feel like I integrate myself a little bit better if I get more touches on the ball. Maybe right behind another striker possible. I feel like that’s what I can do, but also, I do have that strength to be able to hold up the ball in the box and create some things.”

Homegrown Academy product Scott Caldwell made a name for himself around the league sitting deep in the Revolution midfield next to Jermaine Jones. Now he finds himself now on the bench or playing a right-sided midfielder more often than not.

The Revs appear to be too flexible for their own good. While flexibility can be a virtue in a club as deep as conference foes Toronto FC or perhaps in the American footballing side they share a stadium with- the Revolution is no TFC, and Jay Heaps is no Bill Belichick. Their 8-11-5 record tells us as much.

What’s Next?

With the playoffs looking less and less likely as points continue to slip from their grasp, I wonder what this roster looks like come 2018. Can Mike Burns move potential odd men out like Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara or even Kelyn Rowe for value? Or even for, at long last, a fullback?

For that matter will Burns and Heaps still be around if New England misses out on the playoffs for its second consecutive year? Whatever the case, I would expect this off-season to be one of the more memorable in recent memory for the club as they strive to balance the roster and right the ship.

University of Alabama alum who watches far too much soccer. Writing about the New England Revolution for Trifecta Network. Previously covered SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL and high school sports in the state of Maine.

New England Revolution

Jay Heaps Firing Signals The End Of An Era




Last year, a friend and I went to watch the Revolution play in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup. The match was at Jordan Field on the campus of Harvard University. My friend and I decided to walk to the field with the quickest route on his phone’s map. At some point, while walking through the shortcuts of the campus we realized we were probably somewhere we weren’t supposed to be. Our suspicions were confirmed when we saw two men talking in front of a closed door. One of those men was Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. He saw our scarves and realized we were on our way to the game. He gave us a quick hello and neither I or my friend knew what to say. I could barely look at him I was so starstruck. My friend finally nervously shouted a little “Go Revs” and we went on our way to watch Jay Heaps and the Revolution get another win in their run to the US Open Cup final.

Tuesday morning, Jay Heaps was fired as head coach of the New England Revolution. Heaps spent 6 years as the head coach after playing for the club in 9 of his 11 seasons during his playing career. But it wasn’t just his time as a player that made him qualified for the job.

Jay Heaps was a star player in soccer at Duke University. After his freshman year, in addition to soccer, he joined the basketball team as a walk-on. His coach was the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, who has won 5 national championships and is the all-time winningest coach in college basketball history. As a walk-on, Heaps didn’t see a ton of minutes on an already legendary team. But Coach K saw the fire needed to coach in Heaps. He became a better leader by watching Krzyzewski orchestrate plays and conduct his players. While Heaps was earning the Hermann Trophy for the player of the year on the pitch, he was guiding and coaching future NBA stars like Shane Battier.

After college, Heaps was drafted into MLS where he had 314 caps and scored 17 goals as a defender for Miami Fusion and New England Revolution. When he retired in 2009, he took a finance job and then briefly as a color commentator for the Revolution. In 2011, with no coaching experience, Jay Heaps applied to be the coach of the New England Revolution. And with the help of Coach K convincing the Krafts, He landed his first coaching job with his former club.

Heaps tenure at New England had many highs and lows. But for all the highs, Jay Heaps played a pivotal role in most of them. He redesigned the roster in his first year on the job and spent the first two years rebuilding the team. In 2013 he had a pivotal role in the trade up to draft Andrew Farrell. Heaps would go on to lead New England to 3 straight playoff appearances including a glorious run to the MLS Cup final. The lows were very evident though. During his time as head coach, Jay Heap’s teams were known for their unusual streakiness. Sometimes they would go on a 7 game winning streak only to follow it up with a 7 game winless streak. This year was the strangest of those streaks with a great home record and not a single win on the road. Although the Jay Heaps era had it’s ups and downs, it will hold a special place not only in my heart but the hearts of many Revolution fans. This is surely not the end of Jay Heaps the coach.

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New England Revolution

New England Revolution Part Ways With Jay Heaps



The New England Revolution have had a tough go of it all season. Every time they have shown promise and take a step forward there has been a step backward. In a season filled with lack of momentum, the club has decided to take a different route at the coaching role.

This means the Revs have parted ways with Head Coach Jay Heaps who has been at the helm for the better part of the last 6 New England MLS seasons. The rumors of this decision spread out on Twitter on September 18th with the club making the announcement official on Septemeber 19th via a press release.

Here is what the club had to say about the parting of ways with a legendary player and one hell of a coach.

 The New England Revolution announced that the club has parted ways with head coach Jay Heaps, effective immediately. Assistant coach Tom Soehn will take over as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2017 MLS season. 

“Jay has done a great deal for the club over the years and had considerable achievements. I have great respect for him and wish him well in the next steps of his career,” said New England Revolution General Manager Michael Burns. “This decision has not been taken lightly, however, we need to do better than the results have shown from the last couple of seasons and this season left us convinced we need to go in a different direction.”

Heaps leaves the Revolution after six seasons as head coach, having been named the sixth head coach in club history on Nov. 14, 2011. As head coach, the New England native led the Revs to three consecutive MLS Cup Playoff appearances from 2013-15, a trip to MLS Cup in 2014, and the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. He concludes his tenure as the Revs’ second-longest serving coach with a record of 75-81-43 in the regular season and a 4-3-1 postseason mark.

“Jay gave the club his all as a player and coach, and we are thankful to him for all his passion and hard work,” said Brian Bilello, New England Revolution President. “We will always be grateful for his efforts in bringing us back to both an MLS Cup final and a U.S. Open Cup Final and wish nothing but the best for him moving forward.”

Heaps has been a central figure in 15 of the Revolution’s 22 seasons in MLS, including nine years as one of the team’s all-time great defenders from 2001-09. He played a part in all five of the Revolution’s Eastern Conference championships, four as a player, and helped lead the club to the U.S. Open Cup Final on three occasions, including the club’s victory in 2007.

As a Revolution player, Heaps totaled 243 appearances, started 238 matches, and recorded 21,619 minutes played, all of which rank third most in club annals. Including three seasons with the Miami Fusion, his regular season career totals include 314 games played, 299 starts, 17 goals, and 34 assists. In the postseason, Heaps added a remarkable 30 appearances, all starts, with one goal and two assists.

Revolution fans have been calling for this move for a while now. Many see Heaps’s American coaching style being too slow for where the MLS has headed and with the type of personnel he had on the field it didn’t seem like a good fit anymore. The counterpoint to that would be ownerships lack of commitment of real money to the team.

Outside of the Jermaine Jones deal a couple of seasons ago the real money spent on the Revolution hasn’t been what it should be for a championship contending squad. Either way, Heaps will leave beloved by the fans for what he did as a player and as a coach.

In his first Tweet ever he made a statement thanking everyone for their support while hinting a comeback of some form will occur shortly.

A classy move by a classy individual. Having meet the man multiple times all I have to say he is a great person and comes across very well to the media. He wasn’t afraid to throw shots right back in pressers and should be able to land on his feet somewhere.

For this organization after some of the losses they had this season this move was neccessary. But going forward a serious commitiment to spend more money on the team and find a legitmate home stadium will be key to the franchcises longterm success. But at this time it is unclear if the Kraft family is willing to do what it takes to acomplish this.

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New England Revolution

10 Man Revolution Fall To Sporting Kansas City 3-1





Wednesday saw the Revolution lose with the biggest deficit of any team this year. The Revs lost 7-0 against an Atlanta United team who were still fresh off introducing their fans to the brand new Mercedes Benz Stadium. Two red cards in the first half left the Revolution with little hope for the rest of the match. “At that point at halftime, it was never going to go our way.” goalkeeper Cody Cropper said. “Our goal was to get through the game.”

The Revolution went into Saturday’s match having been the only team in the league to not have a road win this season. They would face a Sporting Kansas City side that had not lost at home since 2016. Despite this the Revolution got off to a promising early start. Teal Bunbury scored first of a deflection of Sporting’s Jimmy Medranda.

Then in the 10th minute Krisztian Nemeth, who was making his first start with the Revolution, elbowed Graham Zusi in the face. It almost went unpunished, but the referee went to video review and gave Nemeth a straight red card. Not only was this the third red card in two games for the Revolution but it was also the third red card in a row that was given after assistance from video review.

Sporting were quick to respond the one man advantage. In the 16th minute, Gerso Fernandes scored a goal of a rebound off Brad Knighton. It seemed that the momentum that the Revolution had built early on was gone. But, for the rest of the half the Revs played with relatively equal dominance compared to Kansas City.

Then right before halftime, Diego Rubio scored a crushing go ahead goal. The ball was placed in perfectly by Gerso Fernandes in front of goal. A frustrated Jay Heaps told the Revolution broadcast of his plans to go three at the back to try to boost the offense in the second half.

The Revs second half hopes were wiped away quickly with a 57 minute goal again by Rubio. The rest of the match was uneventful from the Revolution and Kansas City rolled to a 3-1 victory against the 10 man Revs.

The Revolution’s next match will be Saturday at home against league leading Toronto FC. The Revs schedule will not be lenient. But, with 5 games remaining in the season, every match from this point on is a must win.

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