New England Soccer Today

Neumann Makes Case for Minutes

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

There’s little debate that the New England Revolution boast one of the strongest midfields in MLS. With a slew of present and past U.S. Internationals like Jermaine Jones, Lee Nguyen, Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo on the roster, not to mention proven veterans like Scott Caldwell, Andy Dorman and Daigo Kobayashi, it is an uphill battle for younger players to crack the starting XI for Jay Heaps.

This is a battle that second-year midfielder Steve Neumann faces, but an opportunity is now up for grabs. With Jones expected to miss six-eight weeks due a sports hernia injury, while Agudelo and Nguyen could be called up for Gold Cup action, the former first round pick could see his minutes increased this summer.

On Wednesday, Neumann got the opportunity to build his case for more opportunities as he went the full 90 minutes in the Revolution’s 1-0 loss to the Charlotte Independence in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

“Practice is what it is,” Neumann said when asked about the chance to play in a game situation. “But when you get out in a game situation, there’s nothing that can replicate that. So it was great to get a 90 (minute performance) under my belt.”

Wednesday’s match was just the third time that the midfielder had seen a full 90-minute work load since he was drafted with the fourth overall pick last year, and the first time since Oct. 16 of last season when he started at Houston.

But according to Revolution coach Jay Heaps, the seven-month gap in between starts didn’t deter Neumann from registering a solid performance on Wednesday.

“I thought Steve Neumann and Tyler Rudy had a great 1st half,” Heaps said when asked about his starting midfielders following the game. “I thought overall, Neumann had a good, consistent night.”

A night in which he nearly scored, it should be noted. On a free kick midway through the second half, he sent a dangerous free kick that took a deflection off of an Independence defender that nearly snuck under the bar before keeper Hunter Gilstrap made the last-gasp save.

“I’m not sure if it hit the bar or if the ‘keeper saved it,” Neumann said. “Like I said, credit to their defense and their goalie for keeping us off the board.”

While the Revolution weren’t able to crack the scoreboard, Neumann’s performance was certainly a bright spot.

Although he probably won’t be in the lineup for Sunday’s showdown against DC United at RFK Stadium, the audition for playing time will likely continue in the coming weeks. Yes, he’ll have to fight for minutes against veterans like Kobayashi, Dorman and Caldwell in the middle of the park, a tough, early-summer schedule could open some doors for the sophomore midfielder.

And if Wednesday’s performance was a preview of coming attractions, Neumann may have just put some of his more experienced teammates on notice.

Leave a Reply