When Gordon Field was the New England Revolution’s second home

Photo/Brandeis Archives

A portion of the Brandeis Justice student newspaper's article on the Revolution announcing that they'll train at Gordon Field

Like any great soccer coach who has dedicated his life to sport and sportsmanship, the Judges’ Mike Coven can recall countless memories of his 45 years on the Brandeis sidelines.
But the two-year period when the New England Revolution practiced on Gordon Field gave Coven and his players a matchless chance to score winning strategies from a Major League Soccer team.
From 1996 to 1998, Brandeis became a part-time training facility for the professional team, thanks to one of the Judges players at the time, Joe Cummings IV ’00.
“Joe Cummings' father, Joe Sr., was technical director of the Revolution and was looking for a place for the team to practice since Gillette Stadium hadn’t been built yet,” Coven said. “There was a great family connection and they were very friendly, so we decided to go ahead and let the team use the space.”
The Judges players and coaching staff regularly watched the Revolution practice, absorbing as much as they could about how the pros approached the game.
“My players and I were exposed to a very high level of training,” Coven said. “You have to see it at ground level, because the speed of play — mentally and physically — is incredible.
The professional players became a regular presence at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center and on the field. Coven and his team enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the players and coaches, many of whom had played for top teams in Europe and South America.
“It was certainly surreal,” Coven said. “I remember when the Italian goalkeeper Walter Zenga — probably one of the best keepers of all-time — played for the Revolution and came to campus. I’d love to watch him, but he also used to smoke a cigarette before and after practices like a regular Joe.”
Brandeis got other perks from the relationship, as well. Revolution players would send along game jerseys, soccer cleats and even autographs to the Judges for allowing them to use the facility and locker rooms.
Even the Revolution’s opponents would stop by Brandeis and use Gordon Field as a training ground whenever they were in town for a game.
“Brad Friedel, who played for the United States in the 2002 World Cup and is probably one of the best American keepers ever, came here to train with the Columbus Crew once to prepare for a game against the Revolution,” Coven recalled.
“But after his practice ended, he stuck around for ours and asked if he could lead a 45-minute clinic with my goalkeepers. I said ‘sure, absolutely.’ He was so friendly — but stuff like that happened often.”
On occasion, Judges players would even be allowed to participate in Revolution practice. Coven relished seeing his Division III players slotted into a scrimmage against players with years of professional experience.
Coven still credits watching the Revolution up close on a daily basis for many of the tactics he employs today.
“The decision making on the ball was just so quick, you can’t even imagine,” said Coven. “To me, it made a huge difference. If you sat and watched those guys play long enough, you’d learn the game in a much better way.”

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