Heaps rebuilding one piece at a time
So far, Jay Heaps has not had to go to great lengths in restructuring the Revolution. Heaps, who replaced Steve Nicol as head coach last month, took three players in the MLS re-entry draft, and plans to add at least one potential starter in next month’s super draft.
Midfielder Clyde Simms signed with the Revolution last Friday and Heaps expects left back Danleigh Borman and/or forward Nate Jaqua to be next.
“I am particularly excited about Clyde Simms, because he gives us more options,’’ Heaps said yesterday. “I’ve seen him over the years and he is very good in front of the back four. He gives us a lot of flexibility and he helps Shalrie Joseph and Benny [Feilhaber] because he can play anywhere in the midfield. And he helps us as a team by adding an overall good player. We are trying to get better 1 to 28.’’
Jaqua, 30, has been a Revolution rival since starting his career with Chicago in 2003. Jaqua has performed for Los Angeles, Houston, and Seattle, with a stint at Rheindorf Altach in Austria in 2008. Jaqua was in the Houston starting lineup when the Dynamo defeated the Revolution, 2-1, in the 2007 MLS Cup final.
Heaps fought many battles against Jaqua as a Revolution defender from 2001-09.
“I was looking for a forward who could give us a different dynamic up front,’’ Heaps said. “Nate can hold the ball and he can bang and there are only a handful of guys in the league who can do that. I appreciate him as a player. Playing against him, he was a handful. He was banging away and knocking you to the ground right to the end.’’
Jaqua, whose father, Jon, played for the Washington Redskins, seemed to have settled down, playing the last three seasons in Seattle, near his Eugene, Ore., home. A move to Boston would be another long-distance relocation.
“I’ve had good conversations with him but there are a lot of little things,’’ Heaps said. “The process of the re-entry is brand new. It’s a different format and everyone is trying to figure it out in terms of contracts.
“We are taking a lot into consideration. We want players who want to be here - not just in the re-entry draft. We want guys who make our team better. In the case of Clyde Simms and Nate Jaqua, I’m not sure why their options weren’t picked up. But we are looking at where they could help us, and [they] would upgrade our team instantly.’’
The re-entry draft, instituted last year, provides an avenue of limited free agency within the league. The Revolution took Borman, a four-year MLS veteran, in the first round Dec. 5. The former University of Rhode Island standout played three-plus seasons with the Red Bulls before being traded to Toronto FC last season.
The Revolution have the No. 3 pick in the super draft, composed mostly of collegiate players, scheduled Jan. 12.
“I think there are quality players in the draft. I believe there are five or six top players in the draft who could play right away. I know the top players but we want to be 100 guys deep. I think we can get a good player, and maybe two, out of the draft.’’
Not that Heaps is ignoring the foreign market. He has scouted Central and South America with general manager Michael Burns and could make another trip before the draft, he said.
Foreign recruitment also depends on the status of Milton Caraglio, Rajko Lekic, and Monsef Zerka, whose options were not picked up. All three are considering returning to the Revolution with renegotiated contracts, Heaps said.
“We are closer on some than others,’’ Heaps said. “We have had conversations with all of them, but to think we will have all three back is unrealistic. With the salary cap, we have to look at every player and their impact on the cap.
“One thing that gets lost is Shalrie’s number, as a DP [designated player], is actually less against the cap. And that opens up quite a bit of money, which helps us signing players.’’
Among Heaps’s priorities is selecting a top assistant coach.
“I am taking it very seriously,’’ Heaps said. “I wanted to have conversations with a lot of people. I have a personal read on people but I want to get people who want to be here. I feel real good about where we are and we are getting closer [to a hire].
“It’s vital, being a new coach, to have a very good coach who is on the same page of where I want to take the team in training and competition. We can’t get to where we want to be overnight from a tactical standpoint. But assistant coaches have to be able to help with that on a daily basis.’’
Heaps plans to change some Revolution players’ roles.
“From a psychological standpoint it might shock players a little bit,’’ Heaps said. “If we can put them in a little different position - Sainey Nyassi in a wide position has had to stay wide and that limits him. I’m not saying he will do this every week, but if we are in a diamond and he can pinch in, he can do some different things for us.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.