Revs look to answer many questions during two-week training in Arizona
FOXBORO — The middle of a snowstorm isn’t the ideal spot to continue preseason preparations, but the Revolution tromped through nevertheless.
The brief interlude between warm weather trips included plenty of precipitation over the past couple of days and the unveiling of new away uniforms yesterday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
Most critically, it also supplied an opportunity to recharge before departing for Tucson, Ariz., this morning (weather permitting) and rounding off the preparations ahead of the season opener at Colorado on March 4.
“In the next two weeks, we want to build in that final push,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said. “We’re sorting out exactly what the team is going to look like on Day 1, but also what it is going to look like over the rest of the year.”
As the Revs wind their way through the next two weeks, they need to forge a cohesive back four, pick a starting goalkeeper and sift through their choices in the crowded attacking areas.
Most of the attention inevitably drifts to the defensive third after the struggles for stability a year ago. Cody Cropper, Brad Knighton and Bobby Shuttleworth harbor hopes of starting in goal, while recent arrivals Benjamin Angoua and Antonio Delamea form the expected central defensive pairing after completing their moves to the club last month.
Angoua, Delamea and midfielder Xavier Kouassi (now in full training after missing last season with a knee injury) need to find their footing to create the bedrock for a more defiant rearguard, while Juan Agudelo, Kei Kamara, Lee Nguyen and Kelyn Rowe are all expected to vie for midfield and forward roles.
“That’s kind of our mantra here: competition,” Rowe said. “We have it, especially going forward. We have a lot of guys who can score goals. Now with the addition of Juan Agudelo coming back into the fold after a good stint with the (U.S.) national team, it’s going to add even more competition.”
The next few weeks include four friendlies — confirmed dates against Houston (Wednesday), Colorado (Saturday) and Sporting Kansas City (Feb. 22) and a fourth against an opponent to be determined (Feb. 25) — and ample time to implement the expected tactical tweaks ahead of a long campaign.
There is considerable work left to do, but it is vital as the Revs aim to establish the framework necessary to return to the postseason after missing out a year ago.
“The entire preseason is about trying to build that foundation, that fitness, that chemistry,” Nguyen said. “Hopefully, in these final weeks, you start to build in that sharpness you need come season time.”