New England Revolution Looking To Balance Their Roster Down The Stretch
The New England Revolution won a vitally important game on Saturday night at home with a 1-nill victory over the Vancouver WhiteCaps.
The importance of this game can not be understated with only 11 games to go in New England’s MLS slate. With every game becoming a must win it is getting tough for Coach Jay Heaps to balance everything out with new players joining the squad
“Ideally, we get the players earlier in the window. The concern is, how fit are they and pushing them back too soon. There’s definitely going to be a period of adjustment and trying to get them acclimated without throwing off the depth that we’re adding just by guys coming back from injury. [Xavier] Kouassi’s been a huge piece. Every time he’s played, we feel like he’s been really good. He had that significant injury where he came back from the [knee] injury last year, but his quad this year. So him coming back, I feel like, is a real positive and where he is in his fitness is good. I agree – the margins of error are tight, but we’re in the fight like anyone else and we’re going to come every day to work to make sure that we continue to push and make teams know that we’re coming.”
New England has had the pleasure of having Xavier Kouassi return along with several new players joining the organization. One of those new players was announced this past week with the transfer for Krisztián Németh. Németh is expected to be with the team this week.
“Monday. He has his P-1 Visa. Now, it’s just a matter of getting the ITC [International Transfer Certificate].”
With having had these players coming back in the window the roles of players come into question. Even with their successes, adding more players into the fold makes Coach Heaps job even tougher.
Kelyn Rowe has been an electric player for New England this season and has been sort of a utility player for Heaps. Rowe’s ability to play in different spots and match up with different players makes him a very valuable player down the stretch.
“For us, I’ve said it and people joke about it, but I call him a jackknife. He’s got all those different tools and each one of them is razor sharp and he can play positions differently. So tonight, we just felt like if we could go east-to-west against this team, we were going to have opportunities for Kelyn in that wide spot to serve. And then we could solidify it. We also wanted to get a bigger guy in the back line in Je-Vaughn [Watson]. Je-Vaughn covered [Kendall] Waston on every set piece. So we felt like, alright, we get a bigger defender. We bring Je-Vaughn in and then get Kelyn to where we think he could be most effective, we might have a chance. I thought the service was – he’s one of those players, I just talked about [it] on TV, where he can get his head up and he can see where the run is going. He just has a really natural ability to do that and pretty special, quite frankly.”
In Saturday’s win, the Revs scored their first goal via Teal Bunbury, but after that Heaps went in favor of substitutions. The reason being he wanted to slow the game down and play defensively instead of going for the second goal.
“Normally, we might go for the second goal as opposed to drawing it in a little bit, but I thought we wanted to close the game down. [Xavier] Kouassi has been itching to get back and we needed to get him more minutes. [Scott] Caldwell has obviously played so many minutes for us. And Juan [Agudelo], we wanted to get him back in. There was a little dynamic and we wanted a little bit of speed to start the game, so we went with Teal [Bunbury]. I feel like now we’re adding depth and now we’re adding [Krisztián] Németh and Claude [Dielna] is now here. So, now there’s going to be some real fight for position, but also abilities to change games with substitutions.”
Bunbury was the lightning rod for the Revolution on Saturday with his ability to get into the backfield and stretch the WhiteCaps defense. His role this season has been back and forth with Bunbury bouncing from the starting lineup to the bench seemingly every game. But he has had immense success as of late and Heap’s credits his professionalism.
“Even before that, because when Juan was gone, I thought he had a couple of good games as well. I think it’s great, because it makes a hard decision every time we have to make a decision on the lineup. He was in the mix. Actually, I thought he did a nice job in Chicago coming in the game as well to add a spark. For me, Teal [Bunbury], he’s a true professional. I know he doesn’t like starting one game and coming off the bench in the other, but he’s also, for me, a tactical piece, and we decide we can play a little differently with what he brings. Tonight, we really wanted that pace. We really wanted to be able to stretch their back line and find the gaps underneath and make [Matias] Laba and [Tony] Tchani get stretched, because their back line was dealing with runs in behind. It started to open up a little bit. It wasn’t all the way there, but in the second half, I thought that’s what started to happen. Their back line couldn’t deal with the pace and Teal beat them there. If they had, I think there would’ve been space underneath. So those are the things that we need to keep working on. Teal is a true professional. It’s not easy, but man, he puts his head down and comes to work every day and that’s what we love about him.”
Next up for the New England Revolution is a match down in the Bronx to take on NYC FC.