The New England Revolution made their triumphant return to continental competition on Wednesday night and in typical Concacaf fashion, it was chaos.
The snow was falling, making Gillette Stadium look like it was hosting a playoff NFL game not a Concacaf Champions League game. Prior to the game, Pumas players could be seen enjoying the scenery and throwing snowballs at one another.
For some, the mental games came in the form of their attire. Andrew Farrell and Omar Gonzalez braved the elements in short sleeves while the majority of the squad was wearing long sleeves along with gloves and neck warmers.
But for others it wasn’t easy to play in these conditions. If you have Carles Gil saying that things are difficult, you know it must be challenging.
“It’s difficult,” said Gil. “I’ve never had that type of game, but yeah, we know that it was hard for both teams, so we tried to play it, to play easy in the defense and try to keep the space behind the defense. Many crosses, you know? I think we did a very good job in the second half or so and without the snow, better to play.”
Head Coach Bruce Arena said prior to the match that his team would need to perform well for the weather to be a factor. Scoring three goals definitely qualifies as playing well.
Still Arena said that it was challenging for the Revs to play in these conditions. The x-factor for New England was being able to adapt.
Do I feel that we embraced it? Well, they performed well,” he said. “I thought our guys actually weren’t too troubled by it. We had no advantage. We haven’t practiced in the snow either. So, it was as challenging for us as it was our opponent tonight, but it seemed to me that we adjusted a little bit better.”
The difficult playing conditions will continue for New England when they face Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Rain is in the forecast which should make for an ugly game.
Then the Revs get to head down to Mexico will have the advantage with the game being played at a high altitude in much hotter temperatures. Gil acknowledged that the job isn’t done yet for New England.
“We know it’ll be the same over there with the altitude and all of that,” he said. “We know it’ll be difficult to get a good result. We still have 90 tough minutes to play over there. They’re a good team but we hope to advance to the semifinals.”