Revolution hire Jay Heaps

Updated: November 15, 2011, 5:40 PM ET
By Brian O'Connell | Special to

Three weeks after the New England Revolution and longtime coach Steve Nicol parted ways, the team hired a familiar face as his replacement.

Former Revolution defender Jay Heaps, who retired two years ago as the club's all-time leader with 243 games (2001 to 2009), was named as Nicol's successor Tuesday.

Nicol left Oct. 24 after 10 years as coach in what the team described as a mutual decision.

"I am thrilled to accept this position," Heaps said in a news release. "Throughout my playing career and with my involvement with the team after I retired, I've made no secret about my commitment to the Revolution, and I'm honored to be entrusted with this responsibility as head coach."

Heaps, 35, becomes the second-youngest coach in Major League Soccer; only D.C. United's Ben Olsen, at age 34, is younger than the Longmeadow, Mass., native.

Heaps has minimal coaching experience on his résumé -- he served as a volunteer assistant for the men's soccer team at Boston College in 2004, and at Northeastern in 2005 and 2006.

But Heaps' reputation as a tireless worker during his playing career was mentioned as a factor in his hire, according to Revolution owner/investor Jonathan Kraft.

Heaps was the MLS rookie of the year in 1999 with the Miami Fusion. With the Revolution, he was one of three players to start in all four of the team's MLS Cup appearances. The Revolution lost all of those league title games in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

"During his Revs career, no one was more determined to win or revered for his work ethic and leadership, both on and off the field," Kraft said in a news release. "We are excited that Jay will bring these characteristics, along with a keen intellect, to his new position as our head coach. He understands the team's heritage and already has a connection with many of our players and fans."

Building the roster will be Heaps' first order of business. With the Nov. 23 expansion draft and the Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 re-entry draft on tap, he will have no choice but to hit the ground running.

However, one distinct advantage Heaps has is that he's kept his eye on the squad. Shortly after he retired in 2009, he was hired as the color commentator for the Revolution's television broadcasts and provided in-game analysis for two years.

Although he understands that it won't be easy to rebuild a squad that finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs the past two years, Heaps believes the foundation is in place -- and it'll be up to him to start building the framework.

"We have a strong base to build on," Heaps said. "But we also have a lot of work to do as we look ahead to 2012."

Brian O'Connell covers the New England Revolution for Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.