New England Soccer Today

Heaps Mum on Rowe Knock, Caldwell Demotion

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

No doubt one of the biggest mysteries within the lineup that Revolution coach Jay Heaps rolled out for Sunday’s season opener at Houston was the absence of midfield stalwart Scott Caldwell. And immediately following the match, very little light was shed on that development.

Although Heaps mentioned Caldwell twice in his post-game press conference, the Revolution coach didn’t go into detail why the Homegrown product was left off the XI against the Dynamo.

The 24-year-old midfielder started 32 of the Revolution’s 34 matches last year, earning Team MVP accolades at the end of the season. But on Sunday, he was dropped from the XI as Kelyn Rowe, who ordinarily plays in an advanced position, and newcomer Gershon Koffie were assigned to a deeper part of the central midfield.

That development that may have been surprising, but not entirely shocking. The Rowe-Koffie duo was penciled into the XI for Revolution’s the first two Desert Diamond Cup matches while Caldwell was listed among the substitutes.

Following Sunday’s match, Heaps may have offered a morsel of insight as to why Caldwell, who was often the more defensive-minded of two central midfielders last season, was left off the XI at an unfriendly venue like BBVA Compass Stadium.

“We’ve added some real grit to our group with Je-Vaughn Watson and Gershon Koffie,” Heaps said. “It allows guys like Diego (Fagundez) and Scotty and Lee (Nguyen) to go in and change the game.”

In Rowe’s first MLS minutes as the designated no. 8, the midfielder collected 25 touches, and connected on 73.3 percent of his passes while encountering some physical play on the part of Dynamo midfielders Ricardo Clark and Alex. During course of the first half, Rowe picked up an injury that forced him to exit at halftime.

“Kelyn took a little bit of knock,” Heaps told the media after the match. “I think he was battling in the middle. Credit Ricardo Clark, and I thought Alex had a good game in there. Those guys were playing with some muscle, and Kelyn got bumped and banged. I think to be smart we took him out.”

The injury – which Heaps declined to go into detail on – forced Heaps to summon Caldwell off the bench at the start of the second half. In his 45-minute substitute appearance, the Braintree, Mass. native collected 33 touches, and completed 96.7 percent of his passes in a second half that saw the Revolution score twice – including a desperation equalizer from Daigo Kobayashi in the dying seconds.

Though Heaps may have kept his cards to the vest on Caldwell’s absence from the lineup, the Revolution coach was quick to praise the efforts of his substitutes for the comeback draw.

“We rallied our guys, made some subs, and I thought our subs really made an impact on the game which is important,” Heaps said. “Scott Caldwell first came in for Kelyn Rowe. Then I thought Juan came in, and added a little bit of a lift and, of course, Daigo.”

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