FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In a perfect world, Jay Heaps would have every player on his roster play a full 90 every week.
While that scenario may not be realistic in for any MLS head coach, Heaps gave four of his younger players the opportunity to get more minutes after the Revolution loaned out defenders Bilal Duckett, Tyler Polak, midfielder Gabe Latigue and forward Matt Horth to the Rochester Rhinos (USL-PRO) on Wednesday.
None of the four had made the game-day 18 in any of the Revolution’s first three matches, and all four stood to benefit from the Revolution’s new partnership with the Rhinos.
“For me, those guys were battling to get into the 18,” Heaps said. “I think this affords us the opportunity to get these guys (some) games. That’s what these four players need the most right now -- games.”
As part of the partnership, the Revolution must have a minimum of four players in Rochester at a given time. The Revolution may swap and switch out which players are in Rochester at any point during the season.
The Rhinos kicked off their preseason schedule last week, giving the Revolution four plenty of time to acclimate to their new surroundings before Rochester’s April 13 season opener.
On its face, the loans may seem like a demotion of sorts. But Heaps sees this as a chance for them to strengthen their case for getting MLS minutes.
“They’re actually the lucky ones that get some games,” Heaps said. “For me, each player’s a little different to what they need to do. It’s going to be an evolving process in a sense of if we need a player, we’ll go bring him back.”
TOJA READY TO FACE FAMILIAR FOE -- Juan Toja doesn’t like to give significance to one regular-season game over another, especially this early into the season.
But the Revolution midfielder/forward admits that Saturday’s game against FC Dallas, whom he played for from 2007-08, is going to be a little different.
“It has a little more (significance),” Toja said. “I’m very thankful to FC Dallas. I had two great seasons with them, and (Saturday’s game) is a chance to see some of the players that I played with.”
While Toja’s focus is squarely on helping the Revs get three points this weekend, he fondly recalled his first season in Dallas, one that saw him become a cult hero for his trademark heavy metal locks.
“We came close to the final that year,” Toja said. “We did an incredible job, and we had great teammates, which (created) a great atmosphere.”
GETTING THE ATTACK GOING -- One of the early returns of the Revolution’s offseason moves has been improved defending, with the club registering two clean sheets in its first three games.
But as strong as the back four have been playing, Heaps wants to see his team score more often, especially after being shut out in back-to-back games.
“We have to find a way to put a team under pressure,” Heaps said. “I want to see us get more from midfield turnovers. I think when we possess it a little bit more, and we get the right passes in the right channels, we’ll be a little bit better.”