While the New England Revolution has added experienced players to both the backline and midfield since Jay Heaps took over as head coach, one area that has gone largely unaddressed is striker. Since the Revs declined options on Argentinean striker Milton Caraglio and Danish forward Rajko Lekic, no proven replacements have signed on.
Now, head coach Jay Heaps says the team is in talks with one striker and could likely add a second as well.
“We’re in talks with adding one definitely and most likely two,” Heaps said on Sunday.
Who those strikers are remains to be seen, but the Revs recently had 25 year old French striker Saër Sène on trial and were reportedly in talks with 23 year old Trinidadian Jamal Gay. Heaps did say the team was talking to some of the trialists.
“The list of players that as trialists we’ve had into camp there has been some good and some players that we won’t sign,” said Heaps. “There are some guys that we’re certainly having dialogue with.”
But while Heaps sees the need to improve up top, he’s been happy with what he’s seen from his midfield so far and is ready to begin figuring out his best formation.
“We really like where the midfield is in terms of talent level,” said Heaps. “You don’t want to start building your formation before [you bring the players in], so we wanted to see the personnel and see what we’ve got. From now we are going to start building what kind of formation we’re going to play – built around the players we have.”
One new player who has made an immediate mark on the midfield is rookie Kelyn Rowe. The first round draft pick had an assist in the Revs preseason opener, a 2-1 win over FC Tucson on Saturday.
“In terms of his soccer IQ, Kelyn [Rowe] is very mature,” said Heaps. “You can see that he’s adapting to the speed of the game. Obviously it’s different than college and he was with the [U.S.] U-23s, so he has a sense of the speed and he’s going to get there, there is no question about it. He’ll be an impact player this season.”
Rowe has also left an impression on fellow attacking midfielder Benny Feilhaber. While training with the U.S. National Team, Feilhaber got to see Rowe with the U.S. U-23 National Team.
“I’ve seen him a couple times with the U-23s and I watched him a couple times with UCLA as well,” said Feilhaber. “I think he plays a little bit similar to how I play actually. He tries to keep possession of the ball as much as he can, but he’s still looking up field and trying to find the forwards and trying to find the dangerous passes.
“He’s a really smart player with his movements,” Feilhaber added. “He tries to find little spots on the field so he can get the ball off the defense. I think he’s a guy that’s definitely going to help us keep possession in midfield and be dangerous at times. He’s a guy that regardless of where Jay uses him … he’s definitely going to help us go forward this season.”
How exactly Rowe and Feilhaber fit into the same midfield is still in question, but the early signs were positive with Rowe’s impressive preseason debut on the left. Most important now is that the Revs figure out who the strikers will be that the pair will be creating chances for.
As for Re-Entry Draft selection Nate Jaqua, a striker, Heaps said he hopes to begin talks with him again soon. The team is currently in talks with left back Danleigh Borman, another Re-Entry Draft selection.