Back in November, the New England Revolution made a major step by hiring former defender Jay Heaps. The assistant coaching staff of the previous regime was kept on until Heaps could hire his own crew, and as news about various drafts circulated, one question has remained: who will Heaps bring in to support him?
Today, that question has been answered. Jay Miller has been hired as Heaps' primary assistant, Nick Downing as the Revs' first ever dedicated strength and conditioning coach, and Scott Emmens as the new equipment manager.
Miller has been in coaching for decades, having had posts in college soccer and in U.S. Soccer's youth development programs over the last 30 years. He brings a wealth of experience with him to the job even if he isn't exactly an MLS household name.
Nick Downing was drafted by the Revolution in 2001, a Project-40 (predecessor of Generation Adidas) defender out of Maryland. He retired from professional soccer in 2004, became a certified personal trainer and started working in strength and conditioning for sports teams in 2005. Downing specializes in soccer-specific fitness training.
Downing is also particularly significant because he is apparently the first dedicated strength and conditioning coach the club has ever hired. Heaps had mentioned that he felt conditioning was an area of preparation where the Revs were deficient last season, and it seems he is making good on his promises to improve. Hopefully this will go toward curbing the Revs' yearly injury bug as well.
Emmens has experience both in sports retail and in professional soccer, having served as the equipment manager for the Chicago Red Stars of WPS before they folded last year.
This is a big step. For Heaps to totally implement his vision this season he'll need to have a unified and hand-picked staff already in place and comfortable while still having a chunk of the offseason ahead of him. The search for a second assistant is ongoing, but having two of the primary pieces in place is a good start.