New England Soccer Today

No Rush on New Signing Angoua

Photo credit: New England Revolution

It’s impossible to say for sure whether the memory of former Revolution center back John Lozano still lurks in the back of the mind of coach Jay Heaps these days. But one thing’s for sure: Heaps certainly doesn’t hope the same fate awaits his latest foreign center back signing.

During Heaps’ first year at the helm back in 2012, a 30-year-old Lozano was brought in by way of Colombia to stabilize a defense that conceded 58 goals during the previous season. He was big, he was seasoned, and ultimately, he was gone within a matter of six months largely because of his inability to stay healthy.

Fast forward five years later, and Heaps has not one, but two new international center backs on his roster: Antonio Mlinar Delamea (Slovenia) and Benjamin Angoua (Ivory Coast). While the 25-year-old Delamea’s joined camp without issue, the 30-year-old Angoua isn’t quite ready to make his preseason debut.

“Right now he’s still recovering from (a knock) he picked up in his last game in France,” Heaps told the media on Tuesday. “So right now, there’s no need to rush. We want to make sure he’s fully recovered.”

While Heaps didn’t offer a timeline for when the Ivory Coast international, who last saw minutes with Ligue 1 side EA Guingamp on Jan. 14, will be ready for game action, the gaffer seems pleased with what’s taking place behind the scenes so far.

“Right now he’s just doing a lot of treatment, watching film,” Heaps said. “We’re showing him how we play, the way we want to defend, so I think he’s getting up to speed with that.”

Getting up to speed on the Revolution’s style of play – and, by extension, the way the game is played in MLS – will be critical to whether or not Angoua can make it on this side of the Atlantic. After all, playing center back in MLS is a much different proposition than it is in Ligue 1, where many strikers aren’t required to be both physical and quick.

But what transpires between the touchlines isn’t the only aspect of MLS life Heaps hopes Angoua can make a seamless transition.

The veteran defender’s primary language is French, so learning English and being able to interact with his new teammates quickly will also be important, especially for a center back, where good communication is a difference maker.

“Getting to know the guys, I think that’s also critical,” Heaps said. “Getting to know everyone in the locker room so he doesn’t have to just step on the field and be at 100 miles per hour. He can slowly get into that process.”

And with enough patience, perhaps avoid the same troubles encountered by a certain international center back who never got healthy enough to make an impact not that long ago.

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