Santa Clara, CA – The New England Revolution will begin a new era at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday when Jay Heaps takes charge of the club for his first regular season match in Major League Soccer against the San Jose Earthquakes.
After failing to reach the playoffs the past two seasons, New England parted ways with long-serving boss Steve Nicol and has turned to Heaps to reverse the fortunes of the club.
The Revs will be under the guidance of a manager other than Nicol for the first time since 2002, and Heaps, who spent more than eight seasons as a player with New England, is hoping to bring a different approach to the team.
The 11-year MLS veteran is trying to instill a more possession-oriented system, and it is one that the team is still clearly getting used to.
"Some days you would love to watch us play and some days it's like pulling your hair out, but we look forward to trying it out on Saturday and hopefully getting that win," said midfielder Shalrie Joseph. "It's going to take a little bit of time to work on, but it's been very encouraging, very positive and everybody's just looking forward to Saturday."
San Jose is also trying to turn the page from last season, which saw the Earthquakes miss out on a trip to the postseason as well.
Too often last term striker Chris Wondolowski was left to shoulder the scoring load as he has tallied 34 goals over the past two seasons.
But the club has attempted to give him some help with the additions of Colombian Tressor Moreno in midfield and striker Sercan Guvenisik.
San Jose closed last season with two wins in its final three games and will try to carry a bit of that momentum into the start of the new season.
Defender Ike Opara has been pleased with the club's moves this offseason, and recognizes the importance of getting off to a good start.
"Every new face, every move we've made, has been good so far," said Opara. "Everyone brings a little something to the table, whether it's on the field or personality-wise, so it's been good. We've jelled so far. We're all excited to turn this around this year. We struggled last year, clearly. We want to make it right, so hopefully we get off to a good start this year. That's going to be key."
The 'Quakes won both meetings between the two sides last season.