New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #SKCvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

On Monday, Revolution general manager Mike Burns confirmed that the team will not be pursuing trialist Will Packwood. This is a good thing. After all, the center back position on the Revolution is an exclusive club.

Since A.J. Soares abruptly jumped across the pond during the winter, the Revolution have signed exactly one center back since. A good one, as it turns out. In fact, London Woodberry has been a revelation…at right back.

Back in January, Jay Heaps told the media that the search for New England’s Next Center Back (TM) wasn’t as quite up to speed since Soares’ exit wasn’t exactly expected. Four months later, that search continues, even though injuries to Jose Goncalves and Darrius Barnes has the club on the verge of drawing straws for who plays next to Andrew Farrell.

At the present moment, the Revolution have three natural center backs on the active roster. On Saturday, all three of them were in the XI. Whether Heaps, who wasn’t a bad center back himself during his playing days, had his boots on standby is unknown.

Granted, Packwood may not have been the answer. Burns likes to remind the media that the club doesn’t just sign a guy for the sake of it. Better to stand down than sign the next Ryan Cochrane. Or, God help us, Franco Coria.

However, the reality is that they’re essentially in the same position they were in at the start of camp, if not worse, with Woodberry playing well at not-center back and Barnes out until American football season. And with a quarter of the current MLS campaign already behind us, it’s puzzling that issue still hasn’t been addressed.

While that storyline appears to be in no rush to reach its conclusion, let’s jump right in, bold and unafraid, into the latest series of questions surrounding the local soccer team.

1. Will Jermaine Jones be in the XI? Ordinarily, this wouldn’t even be a question. But after Jones’ 63rd minute exit vs. Toronto, Heaps pointed out that his prized midfielder was carrying “a little bit of knock.” Given that Jones wasn’t listed on Tuesday’s injury report would seem to suggest that, at very least, he’s healthy enough to play. While he may be recovered from that mysterious ailment, that doesn’t necessarily mean his spot in the XI is assured. Given that Sporting Kansas City won’t be trotting out Graham Zusi for Wednesday’s match, Heaps may use the opportunity to rest Jones in order to have him fresh(er) for Saturday’s match against first-place DC United.

2. What changes will Heaps make the to lineup? Whether Jones starts or sits when the opening whistle blows at Sporting Park, one thing appears to be certain: Heaps won’t be using the same XI we saw vs. Toronto. With plenty of depth at his disposal in the middle and up top, Heaps has the luxury of spelling the likes of Charlie Davies, Juan Agudelo and Lee Nguyen. Whether he elects to do so is another matter. If he does, Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe and Andy Dorman could all be in line for starting assignments at Sporting Park.

3. Who’ll wear the armband? The captain by committee concept is, um, a different one, to say the least. After Heaps said that veterans like Jones, Goncalves, Dorman and Chris Tierney are all candidates for the captaincy, it’s anyone’s guess as to who’ll don the armband in Blue Hell. That said, if Heaps is looking for stability in a hostile environment, then Goncalves is the easy choice. With strong defense the key to containing the lines of Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber, the Revolution would be well-served to have their Portuguese international serve as skipper in Kansas City.

4. Which reserves may get a crack at some long-awaited playing time? While Rowe, Dorman and Fagundez could all find themselves in the XI, there are others who could stand to get some much-needed playing time on Wednesday. Among them: Sean Okoli, Steve Neumann and Daigo Kobayashi. Okoli last saw action on Apr. 4 in Colorado, and given the likelihood that Davies won’t be in the XI, the former Sounder could very well come on late for Davies’ replacement. Neumann, the super-sub himself, hasn’t seen action in nearly a month, and would seem like an ideal candidate for coming on late. Last, but certainly not least, is Kobayashi, who was steadying presence while Jones recovered from sports hernia surgery. After battling a hamstring injury for last month-and-half, the veteran midfielder would seem to be a solid choice off the bench.

5. Can the Revolution extend their unbeaten streak? If they do, they’ll probably have to get it done with a certain degree of ugliness. Given that 1. it’s a midweek game, 2. the Revolution rarely play well at Sporting Park, and 3. DC United is next, don’t expect another wild 3-2 affair like the one we witnessed last September. Yes, you could argue that the Revolution roster is stronger than it was the last time they were in Kansas City. And yes, Peter Vermes’ team isn’t exactly the juggernaut it once was in front of their home fans. But Wednesday’s match certainly won’t be a walk in the park. The Revolution will need to bear down defensively, and be quick and decisive on the break. Above all else, they must stay disciplined, and they must be OK with the possibility of walking off the the pitch with a 0-0 draw.

What other questions surround the Revolution heading in Wednesday’s match? Let us know in the comments section!

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