Hiring an unproven coach and installing a new system has the New
England Revolution living up to their nickname.
A slew of changes and a milestone ruling have the San Jose
Earthquakes feeling confident.
Jay Heaps looks to win his coaching debut and prove the
Revolution’s solid preseason is a sign of things to come Saturday
night when they visit the Earthquakes to open the MLS season.
New England finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference
last season with a 5-16-13 record, failing to reach the playoffs
for a second consecutive year. That was enough to cost coach Steve
Nicol his job after 10 seasons.
With the Revs in the midst of a rebuilding project, they opted
to hire Heaps, the club’s television analyst for two years after
spending 11 as a rugged, stalwart defender – nine with New
The stunning hire was followed by an equally surprising change;
the Revolution would be altering their system to a more
possession-based one to encourage offensive play.
The style showed promise during preseason, as New England won
three of four games (3-0-1), outscoring 2011 MLS Cup champion Los
Angeles, New York and Salt Lake by a combined 7-3 in those
“At times, it’s been very positive,” Heaps told the team’s
official website. “We’ve shown that we have players on the field
who, when they have the ball at their feet, can change the game and
that’s what we really want to create.
“We also have good, strong, athletic players who can also get in
behind. So we want to have kind of a one-two punch where we keep
possession and we wear teams down, but then have the ability to get
One of those players is Saer Sene, a French forward who was has
size (6-foot-3) and speed. He spent nearly three years with
Germany’s Bayern Munich, but was limited to playing for the reserve
team. However, he had 19 goals in 55 matches.
“He’s a great striker of the ball,” Heaps said. “Now, (the
question) is going to be can we spring him? Can we get him in
That task will be up to a midfield that stars captain Shalrie
Joseph, U.S. international Benny Feilhaber and 20-year-old Kelyn
Rowe, the third overall selection in January’s SuperDraft.
Rowe, who left UCLA two years early, has been used in
offensive-minded roles with various U.S. youth national teams.
“We’re so excited and so looking forward to Saturday night,”
Joseph said. “Even though it’s on the road, it feels good just
getting our season started. Everybody’s just ready to get that
first kick in and get a win on the road.”
The changes could help New England, which went 1-9-7 on the road
last season. The team is 1-6-2 in its last nine visits to San
The Earthquakes are also looking to capitalize on changes, as
they enter 2012 looking to return to the playoffs after going
8-12-14 last season.
They added midfielders Marvin Chavez, Tressor Moreno and rookie
Sam Garza along with defender Victor Bernardez to a roster that
already boasts Chris Wondolowski, who has totaled 34 goals over the
last two seasons.
“We brought in some great guys, especially offensively, and I
think that’s really going to help produce (goals) and be very
dangerous in the attack,” Wondolowski told the team’s official
website. “I know other guys are going to be scoring a lot, but I
think goal totals in general – and general play for us – will
Wondolowski has three goals in the last four meetings with New
England, including both in a 2-1 road victory Oct. 8.
The Quakes’ optimism may also stem from last month’s unanimous
vote by the San Jose Planning Commission that approved the building
of a new stadium.