FOXBORBOUGH, Mass. – If it was up to Juan Agudelo, he would be playing this weekend against Sporting KC.
“I feel ready,” said Agudelo. “I feel like I could play this weekend.”
But it’s not up to him, nor Revolution head coach Jay Heaps, but rather the team’s medical staff.
“It’s not his decision and it’s not my decision,” Heaps said. “We have a medical staff that is looking out for the best interest of the player. I think for him he’s so close and he’s getting there. But we want to be patient and we want to be smart because we need him for this stretch for the playoffs.”
With rumors and reports swirling that Agudelo has decided to head overseas at the end of the year for Stoke City, the 20-year-old striker said he is focused on getting healthy and playing for the Revolution.
“I’m willing to play for whatever team I’m under contract with right now,” he said. “Right now, 110% of my focus is on getting healthy and playing with the Revolution.”
The team’s record has been average – 3-3-1 – with Agudelo on the shelf because of his injury and they have scored nine goals in his absence. After being acquired on May 7th from Chivas USA, Agudelo made his Revs debut as a sub against Houston, scoring in the 84th minute. In his five appearances – four of them starts – New England went 3-1-1 with Agudelo tallying three goals and the team accounting for 12 goals.
“We miss him,” said Heaps. “Just having options and his physical play with his good feet and the way he’s got good vision is something we miss. We’ve done well in certain areas without him but we need him because we want to have the deepest team we can have right now.”
Depth is something Heaps keyed in on, as even though they play a formation that indicates a lone striker, both of their wide midfielders – most recently Diego Fagundez and Saer Sene – are both known strikers and goal scorers.
“We need all of our forwards because we play three at a time and we need to have guys that rotate in all three of those slots and that’s what [Juan] does well,” Heaps said.
Another positive sign for Agudelo and New England is the feedback he has received from the heart rate monitors that the players have been wearing in training.
“We’re wearing these heart rate monitors and I think this week I’ve got the info that I’ve been almost as level as some of the players that are substitutes that are playing on the team,” Agudelo said.
But with Agudelo saying he feels that he could play this weekend, what are the chances they we see him suit up against Sporting KC?
“We’re getting closer,” Heaps said. “I don’t want to make a decision on Wednesday. It’s really ultimately not my decision yet until I get the OK from the medical staff.”
Agudelo doesn’t just “feel ready” either, as he expressed confidence in his fitness.
“If it was tomorrow, I feel like I could play 90 [minutes],” he said.