By: Mike Corrado
When I look around my room, I can see nearly every inch of my walls have been covered with Boston sports memorabilia. An autographed photo of Rick Middleton sits by my door, a signed football from Stephen Gostkowski and Jerod Mayo rests in a hanging case, a signed Marcus Smart T-shirt is draped over my bureau door. However, looking at any Revolution memorabilia I own shows an odd pattern. Jay Heaps is found in a ton of posters and playercards. In a campaign poster for the 2016 season, Heaps is pictured alongside Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones (Who ironically didn't even re-sign for that season). Now, don't get me wrong Jay Heaps was a great manager, but he hasn't been a great manager since 2014. In 2015, only a year after nearly winning MLS Cup, the Revs were bounced from the playoffs in the first round, and failed to even make the playoffs the following season. So, what the hell happened in that short of a time frame? Let's investigate a little.
When Jay Heaps played for the Revs from 2001-2009, he was a solid player, one of those real gritty glue guys that a team needs to succeed. Only two years after his retirement, Jay took over the starting coaching job from his former coach, Steve Nicol. His first two seasons saw the departure of club legend Shalrie Joseph and the addition of young starlet Diego Fagundez, which turned his first few transfer windows into huge turning points for the team. The 2013 season saw the Revs get bounced out of the playoffs early by Sporting Kansas City, so it was fair to say that Jay Heaps was definitely on the chopping block. After starting the season playing some pretty meh soccer, both the front office and Heaps knew what needed to be done, and found a way to use a DP slot and acquire Jermaine Jones. Once he began to play, the Revs instantly became cup favorites, and soared through the playoffs just to lose in MLS Cup. This near victory marked the beginning of the downfall of Jay Heaps.
The next season, the Revolution were still just as dangerous as they had been in the second half of the previous season, but courtesy of a major collapse in a playoff game against DC United, tempers flared, and Jermaine Jones was suspended for the beginning of the 2016 season following his physical altercation with referee Mark Geiger. His arguing lead to the Revolution, under the eye of Jay Heaps, choose to not pursue the midfielder's contract, and allow him to walk his way to Colorado. The 2016 season, for the most part, was abysmal. The team struggled to find any semblance of leadership, and attempted to make a splash signing by bringing in Kei Kamara, but he really never became the leader the team expected. This now brings us to 2017: The year everything went downhill. The leadership problem can now easily be attributed to Jay Heaps, there's been absolutely no consistency in both the starting lineups and the styles of play. Where do the Revs sit in the standings? 8th in the East, out of the playoffs, fresh off of a 4-1 thrashing in Chicago.
It's simple, every team does it at one point or another, and now it's time for the Revs to do the same. The astounding fact is really that he hasn't already been fired. THE TEAM HASN'T WON A SINGLE AWAY GAME THIS SEASON FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. With Jay Heaps at the helm this team will continue to stagnate, as the youth that needs development, such as Femi Hollinger-Janzen and Donnie Smith get little to no action in the team's roster, even though last season the two started a handful of games and produced solid results on both occasions. Jay Heaps has not only lost the support of his own locker room, but the support of many loyal fans. Practically the Revolution's biggest supporter's group, the Midnight Riders have had many of their members boycott the previous two matches, as well as a mass of many of the members of the other two supporters groups, and many other supporters as well as casual fans have started up the #HeapsOut movement.
Attending any match will provide you with a solid idea of the attitude towards the skipper, as "Heaps Out" and "Fire Heaps" signs can be spotted in both The Fort and the general seating section, as well as the occasional "Heaps Out" chant ringing out in different areas of the stadium. The whole team is slowly falling apart, and the player Jay Heaps once was, holding a team together, most certainly hasn't transferred over to his newfound managerial reign. There is still a very small hope for Jay to redeem himself, if Claude Dielna can form a formidable backline with the current core, and Heaps begins to trust his youth, and play the players in-form, rather than the household names, the Revolution very well could snatch the final playoff spot in the East. But in order to even think about that, try winning a damn road game for once this season.
It also seems as if Heaps himself is beginning to lose his motivation in coaching the team, as his last two press conferences following losses he's mentioned both the referee's not helping the team, not scoring goals, and not playing well enough. Those aren't reasons, or motivation sources in anyway, he's literally just making excuses as to why he can't motivate or provide this team with the leadership that a coach is supposed to bring. So why hasn't he been fired yet? A lot could be speculated, however I just believe it's the FO giving Jay an extra chance for the 423614286th time. It may be hard to believe but I actually like Jay Heaps, he's just not the same coach he used to be, and the Revs need to realize that if they want to stay relevant in today's MLS landscape.
Little Update: While writing this piece the Revs apparently signed Krisztian Nemeth to a deal, but nothing has been officially announced yet. Weird acquisition though, meaning either Kei Kamara, Juan Agudelo, or Teal Bunbury may be on their way out of New England in order to accommodate the Hungarian striker.