The Revolution host Club America in Champions Cup action.

The Concacaf Champions Cup tournament has been a comfort zone of sorts for the New England Revolution.

The Revolution breezed through the opening two rounds, going 3-0-1 and outscoring their two opponents 9-1. The Revolution registered clean sheets in their aggregate 4-0 home-and-home series sweep of Panamanian entrant CA Independiente in the first round. The Revolution exited the Round of 16 with an aggregate score of 5-1 against Costa Rica power LD Alajuelense.

The Revolution’s Concacaf comfort zone will get a lot less cozy on Tuesday night (9) when they host reigning LIGA MX champion Club America in leg one of their home-and-home quarterfinal series at Gillette Stadium. The second leg will be played on April 9 at Estadio Azteca in the high altitude of Mexico City.

“Playing Club America will arguably be the best (team) we’ve played all season,” said Revolution coach Caleb Porter. “It is one of the most talented teams you are ever going to see in this continent.

“They are a true positional play team. A team that dominates games with the ball, presses very high up and is extremely aggressive with and without the ball. So, that is a huge task for us.”

The Revolution’s success in Champions Cup play has not carried over into the start of the MLS regular season, where they went 0-4-1 and are mired in last place in the Eastern Conference. The Revolution closed out an arduous stretch of eight games in 26 days with a 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire FC on March 23 at Gillette Stadium.

Porter has used the ensuing bye week to rest his players and work on ways to improve the Revolution’s MLS standing. The Revolution close out a three-game MLS homestand against Charlotte FC on Saturday night (7:30) at The Razor.

“It’s been nice to have training and a little break too,” said Porter. “What we went through with eight games in (26) days was a gauntlet, very difficult and you could see guys were chewed up mentally and physically.

“I think that has been a big part of the issue in the league, we have not been fresh and not had time to prepare. We have put a lot into the Concacaf Champions Cup as well and at times in the league when you have so many games and it’s early.

“We’ve managed the Champions Cup well but not the league so it was nice to have a couple of weeks to reset, recharge and prepare. The long-term vision will not change but the short-term vision might be based on knowing our group now after three months.”

The Revolution’s roster got deeper for these next two crucial home games with the return of three keys players who missed the Chicago match while honoring their respective nation’s international commitments.  The returnees are homegrown midfielders Esmir Bajraktarevic (U.S.) and Noel Buck (England) and goalkeeper Henrich Ravas (Slovakia).

“Obviously we have players go and play for their countries and it is good experience for them and there is growth that comes from that, especially with the young guys like Esmir,” said Porter. “It’s an opportunity to go and get games and gain confidence and I always feel like it’s a good thing.

“But it is also nice to have extra bodies and simply put, the more players we have available the better. In the last game we didn’t have much on the bench for what we could do to change the game and give ourselves a push. That push would have certainly helped at 1-1 to win the game.”

Revolution midfielder and team captain Carles Gil, the 2021 league MVP, is one of the premier playmakers in MLS and he makes the players around him compete harder. Gil understands the need to have the full complement of players available to get the Revolution going in the right direction in both Concacaf and MLS matches.

“It is important to have everyone back in training and ready because this is a difficult part of the season with many games,” said Gil. “So, we need everyone ready to play because we are playing every three days and it is important to have has many players ready.”

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