In the last week, the Revolution have lost head coach/sporting director Bruce Arena (resigned), along with three assistant coaches (fired or on leave). But they are hoping to remain united, according to captain Carles Gil.
“Maybe it’s the best thing that happened the last days,” Gil said Thursday. “You know, when something like this happened, I think we were obviously together, but maybe now more. And maybe it’s a challenge for us, no, after all these strange things happened?”
The Revolution visit the Colorado Rapids Saturday night, their first match since Arena announced his resignation last Saturday and their first game under interim coach Clint Peay. Despite performing without Arena, who was placed on administrative leave by MLS July 30, the Revolution (13-5-9, 48 points) stand in second place in the Eastern Conference.
In their last four league games, the Revolution have gone 1-1-2, surrendering goals in the 85th minute of a loss to Montreal and in stoppage time in draws against Austin FC and Minnesota United.
“OK, now we need to continue and have a challenge and see what kind of team and personality we have,” Gil said. “We want to show that first in Colorado. We know we had two difficult results — to concede a goal in the last second of a game, it’s hard for us. So, it’s a moment to show what kind of team we are.”
The Revolution have been in turmoil because of disruptions in the coaching staff and unanswered questions regarding the reasons for Arena’s departure. Practice was called off Tuesday, and later in the day, assistants Shalrie Joseph and Dave van den Bergh were fired, with Peay named to replace Richie Williams as interim coach. The Revolution held practice Wednesday and Thursday, hoping to refocus.
“We are professionals, we are players, it’s clear in our contract we need to play to make the [best] possible,” Gil said. “This decision is not on us, it’s on another person here in the club. We just want to be together now with Clint and go forward.”
As for late-game collapses, Gil said, “It’s more on us, try to be ready in that moment. Obviously we want to close the game maybe earlier, scoring another goal. Everyone in that moment to be focused, me as a captain to have everyone ready. It was a very disappointing moment. We hope we learn from that moment, in the future be ready for that moment.”
Peay, who guided the Revolution II team for four years, played for Arena before starting his coaching career as an assistant at Georgetown in 2003.
“When I played under Bruce, it was a different time,” Peay said. “I think just the biggest thing that I’ve learned was his competitive spirit. I think I’ve evolved a little differently as a coach. At the end of the day, tactically, we don’t want to change the DNA of the group. We want to remain true to that with some tweaks that we feel will make us successful as we go forward.”
Peay won three MLS Cups in a five-year playing career that ended because of injury in 2000.
“Coaching, in a nutshell, is about managing people and presenting a vision,” said Peay, who joined the Revolution first-team coaching staff last month. “And I think my time at Revs II has prepared me to do those things.
“I’ve spoken to several players, and as much as I hope I can help them, they can help me and our staff move forward and kind of focus on the task at hand and try and win an MLS Cup.”
As for late-game difficulties, Peay said, “It’s a reminder about the focus and the concentration needed to see a game out. The decisions in those later stages of the game, the urgency of your actions in the later stages of the game. And I think all the players are aware of that and how it’s about just really executing in those moments.”
Four of the Revolution’s final seven games will be on the road.
“I think we’re all focused on the game [in Colorado],” Peay said. “We’re all ready to move on. The players are hungry. They have the passion, the desire to go forward, and I think collectively we’re all focused on Colorado.
“And we’re ready to move on. The past is the past and that’s not our focus. I know we’re all ready and willing to help and get this thing moving in the right direction.
“I think it’s clear from the top down that this is a team that wants to win. So I think the expectations are to work toward being the champions at the end of the season. And that’s it.”
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.