New England Soccer Today

Kouassi Gets High Praise Following Debut

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

Few expected Xavier Kouassi to make his Revolution debut on Saturday at Dallas after gathering only a handful of minutes during the preseason. But during the course of the contest, he left little doubt he was ready.

Starting at defensive midfielder some 13 months after he signed a designated player deal, the Ivory Coast international completed 81.8 percent of his passes, collected three interceptions, and recorded three clearances in Saturday’s loss.

“He was outstanding,” Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell told the media after the match. “Really, really good positionally and ball-winning. It’s great to see after waiting so long for him, and seeing he’s healthy and back at it with the guys.”

His journey to Saturday’s debut was a long and winding one. Days after signing his future contract with the Revolution last February, Kouassi tore his ACL in a match with Swiss side FC Sion. The injury ended any chance he’d suit up for New England after his arrival in July.

But the 27-year-old midfielder was far from fazed by the setback. When he re-joined the team for the preseason, Kouassi trained with a large brace on his leg as he worked on his fitness. He was limited to a mere 23 minutes over two preseason games, which appeared to be an indication his official debut was several weeks away.

Then came Saturday’s match, which featured a gritty and energetic performance from the guy wearing the navy blue no. 12 shirt.

“It looked like he wasn’t afraid to step into some challenges, as if he wasn’t afraid to get injured again,” Revolution midfielder/forward Juan Agudelo told the media after the match. “It’s very bright for us to have a player like that back.”

While Revolution coach Jay Heaps hinted that Kouassi will only get better as he gets more minutes, he admitted that subbing him out after 79 minutes – a run much longer than most expected – was far from an easy choice.

“It was hard to take him out,” Heaps told the media after the match. “I thought Kouassi did a really good job. He showed his physicality and he broke up plays.”

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