FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Jay Heaps would rather not have a bye week only four games deep into the regular season.
Granted, he’ll find plenty to work on between now and the Revolution’s April 13 contest in Seattle. For a coach who shows up to work well before dawn, there’s always something to build on or improve.
But with his team just getting into the routine of the regular season, well, now is not exactly the best time to take a break.
“I would rather have it later into the season,” Heaps said. “But we don’t dictate our schedule as much as we’d like, so we have to take this time to improve.”
At the top of the agenda is curing what ails the attack. The Revolution have scored only one goal this season and have been shut out in each of their last three contests.
Heaps’ diagnosis: “We’re still attacking with numbers. We’re just not attacking all that well, meaning that the final ball or the right run or the pass to get it from one side to the other just hasn’t been good enough. And then when we have a chance or two, and we’re not getting a ton of them, we have to finish those and we just haven’t been clinical enough.”
In a sense, the biggest challenge facing Heaps is improving the quality of the chances and getting his players to improve in critical situations. While drills and repetitions will be used, he also wants to see his players figure out smoother transitions between north and south, as well as east and west.
“It’s (about) fluidity and quality,” Heaps said. “There’s no question we have the technical ability to do a lot of things, but that only gets you so far. So we have to make sure that we’re doing the right things with the technical players and putting them in the right places to succeed.”
DEFENSE TO THE RESCUE -- While the attack has looked passive over the last four weeks, the defense has been particularly strong.
Even though Bobby Shuttleworth and Matt Reis have split time between the sticks, the back four of Andrew Farrell, A.J. Soares, Jose Goncalves and Kevin Alston have come together to pitch a pair of shutouts.
“What I’m happy about (is) that defensively, we’re not defending with 11 guys behind the ball,” Heaps said. “We’re defending with an attack mindset. We’re just not attacking real well, but we’re defending well with the numbers we’re defending with. It’s not like we have four defensive midfielders and four defenders. We had five guys attacking last game (vs. FC Dallas).”
SOFFNER STICKS AROUND -- Last week, the Revolution sent four players to their USL-PRO affiliate in Rochester, and to the surprise of some, third-string goalkeeper Luis Soffner was not one of them.
Although there’s no question Soffner would welcome any opportunity to get playing time, he’s not about to complain about learning the trade from Reis and Shuttleworth.
“It’s awesome,” Soffner said. “It’s probably the best situation that could’ve happened, to learn from the two of them and goalkeeper coach Remi Roy. They’re really pushing me hard to get better every day.”
Heaps said one of the reasons Soffner stayed in Foxborough is for training purposes, so that all three of the goalkeepers get sufficient practice reps. But that won’t keep him from getting game action with some of his fellow rookies.
“Luis will get games in Rochester,” Heaps said. “But we wanted to have three goalies here for the entire year. We’ve talked to Rochester in that there will be times when guys will go down for games, but they’ll continue to train here.”