New England Soccer Today

25 Things to Look for During the DDC

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

On Wednesday, the Revolution kick off the third and final portion of their preseason camp with the start of the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup tournament, which will run through Feb. 28.

During the four-match, 10-day affair, the Revolution will be pitted against Real Salt Lake (Feb. 18), Colorado Rapids (Feb. 21) and Seattle Sounders (Feb. 25), while the opponent for the finale (Feb. 28) will be determined based upon total points.

Here are 25 things to look for during this year’s edition of the preseason tournament:

1. With eight open rosters spots, we’ll finally get to see which trialists have started to separate themselves from the pack. From early indications, it appears that camp invite Timi Mulgrew and third-round pick Marcus Fenelus have already made positive impressions.

2. Keep an eye on the right back’s spot. Jay Heaps admitted that putting Jeremy Hall at right fullback was always a part of the plan, but the number of minutes he received during the first two scrimmages(134, tops among all players) was not. If Kevin Alston is back to full health, it’ll be interesting to see how much Hall’s workload is affected.

3. The wholesale halftime lineup changes will probably come to an end after Wednesday’s opening clash. With games every three days, the coaching staff will be looking to stretch their players’ minutes as they build toward first kick.

4. At last check, the Revolution were carrying 26 players on the preseason roster. If history is any indication, we’ll probably see more news faces between now and Feb. 28 as the search for additional depth – especially in back – continues.

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

5. Is Darrius Barnes destined for a return to center back this year? After getting minutes there during the second scrimmage against Vancouver, it may be that Barnes will be asked to provide depth in the middle of the back four instead of fullback.

6. Former Chivas USA goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg should get a chance to vie for the third keeper’s spot after he was kept on the bench during the first two scrimmages. If he performs well, he’ll likely be the favorite to travel back to Foxborough after the tournament wraps up.

7. How quickly will Diego Fagundez re-acclimate to having Juan Agudelo back on the pitch? That question will be crucial to whether the 20-year-old winger can rebound from last year’s inconsistent campaign. If it’s seamless, Fagundez could be as dangerous as ever this year.

8. What becomes of Charlie Davies’ role? Don’t be surprised if Heaps tinkers with putting the striker on the right, or even as a withdrawn forward/attacking mid as Lee Nguyen gradually works his way back into action.

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

9. Is Andy Dorman ready to shoulder the load as the #8 with Jermaine Jones out? There’s no reason to believe that he can’t after he showed himself quite capable during the first half of the 2014 season. Though he’s not nearly as adventurous as Jones, he doesn’t need to be in order for the Revolution to come out of the gate strong.

10. Nguyen will probably be brought along slowly after spending the last month with the U.S. Men’s National Team. According to Davies, the veteran midfielder came back less than 100 percent healthy. In light of that, it’s likely that the MVP finalist will slowly be brought along to avoid further injury.

11. Will we see a slew of new faces along the wings? In addition to the names we saw stationed along the edges during the first two scrimmages, don’t be shocked if Davies, Agudelo, Fenelus, Sean Okoli and Chris Tierney all see action as outside midfielders, as well .

12. Last year, the Revolution brought Academy players Austin Aviza and Zach Herivaux along for the tournament. Given the lack of numbers at the coaching staff’s disposal for this year’s festivities, it wouldn’t be surprising if the club brings a couple of Academy stars along for this year’s tourney.

13. Can Okoli build off the momentum he gained from the first two preseason scrimmages? He’ll need to in order to make his case for spot on the gameday roster against his old team on Mar. 8.

14. The most intriguing match: Revolution vs. Sounders, Feb. 25. How will the coaching staff gameplan against Seattle knowing they’ll have to face them again in 10 days?

15. Always, always remember that preseason stats are misleading. Just ask last year’s winter star: O’Brian Woodine.

16. What number will Juan Agudelo wear? During a conference call with the media earlier this winter, Agudelo hinted that it may be 17, which is currently open.

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution

17.  The forecast for this week in Tucson: mid-to-low 70s with plenty of sunshine. Feel free to live vicariously through your local footballers for the duration of the month, Revolution supporters.

18. But be warned: it CAN snow in Arizona during February, as we saw during a clash between the Revolution and Real Salt Lake two years ago.

19. How important is winning? No coach wants to see his club lose, but by the looks of the last three years, it appears that the win-loss-draw total is becoming less of a concern as building fitness and cohesion has taken precedence during the last two tourneys.

20. Look for Donnie Smith to do what he does every winter: Excel. Of course, translating that success to the regular season has been the biggest hangup for the third-year pro.

21. Something to keep in mind: Two players who were key to the club’s success last year were acquired while the Revolution were in the midst of DDC action (Teal Bunbury and Daigo Kobayashi).

22. Speaking of Kobayashi: Will we see another “Player X” this year?

23. Which rookie will position himself to get a start for First Kick? While there aren’t any blue-chip prospects in camp this year, it’s worth noting that the Revolution have started a rookie in each of their last six First Kick clashes.

24. Watch out for injuries, as Andrew Farrell can attest to after suffering an ankle injury early in camp last year.

25. Don’t look now, but First Kick is less than three weeks away. In other words, things will only get more serious between now and Mar. 8.

Photo credit: New England Revolution

Photo credit: New England Revolution


  1. pauloblitzz

    February 17, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Glad their streaming the DDC games, not sure I’d make it to March.

  2. Brian O'Connell

    February 17, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Cheers to that!

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