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Brad Friedel has been impressed by his players’ work rate

Friedel: The work rate has exceeded our expectations, no doubt,” Friedel explained.

MLS: Sporting KC at New England Revolution Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

If you ask any member of the New England Revolution, they’ll tell you it’s not easy to be a professional soccer player, especially with Brad Friedel at the helm. The training sessions—which sometimes occur twice a day—are intense and physically draining. While this is hard work, it’s also a key reason why the team is doing as well as they are.

Currently sitting third in the Eastern Conference, the Revs are doing better than many predicted at the start of the season. The players look ready to go each week, as they’re willing to put in maximum effort on both sides of the ball. It’s not easy, but it’s certainly worth it.

“Since preseason, we’ve been working so hard with those sessions,” Diego Fagundez explained. “If we are working hard in these games it’s going to pay off for us.”

The Revs have regularly used the high press to force turnovers. The tactic, which has been highly effective so far, requires commitment from everyone on the field. If someone isn’t doing his job then the system breaks down.

This, of course, means that everyone has to be fit and ready to go. So far, the players have been up for it.

“The work rate has exceeded our expectations, no doubt,” Friedel explained. “It is really difficult work that we ask them to do and they’re in long hours, longer than they’re used to. But, it pays dividends when you can go out and get to fitness levels, so you can keep the ball and defend in a high-pressing manner, like we want to.”

This isn’t to say that the team has to be at their highest level for all 90 minutes. Instead, it’s about understanding when it’s time to rest.

“When you’re defending, I say this to the players a lot, that a lot of teams think that they can have a rest when they defend,” Friedel said. “You can’t have a rest when you defend. You try to get your breather and rest when you have the ball, and try to keep a little bit of possession and then go again, but you cannot rest when you defend.”

Despite many positive results so far this season, including Saturday’s 1-0 win over Sporting KC, there’s still work to be done. If the team continues to put in maximum effort, however, more good things are sure to come.

“We’re just a team that’s in its infancy right now, but we’re very happy with where we’re at,” Friedel said. “We still want to add a couple of pieces to the puzzle and we still want to improve on a lot of things, but whenever you get three points against very, very good teams, it makes the hard work a little bit easier to give.”