New England Soccer Today

What We Learned: Casa Grande Edition

Photo credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

After spending the last 10 days in the comfortable climes of Casa Grande, the Revolution head back to snowy Foxboro further along in their preseason progressions, but with plenty of work still ahead of First Kick.

So what did we learn about the Revolution’s first excursion to the Copper State?

1. Jay Heaps has no intention of returning Andrew Farrell to right back. If there was any notion that Farrell was going to be moved to his original spot, Heaps essentially squashed it by partnering the fourth-year defender with Jose Goncalves in the middle of the back line. Yes, Sambinha’s arrival may alter things slightly. But it probably won’t prevent a second season of Farrell at center back.

2. Speaking of defensive slots, London Woodberry is the early front runner of the starting spot. There’s no doubt that the club wasn’t comfortable with the situation at Farrell’s former spot this winter, which is precisely why it used the 10th overall pick to draft Jordan McCrary. That move, though, seemed to light a fire under Woodberry, who’s appeared to train and play well enough to be part of the first-team backline against San Jose and Vancouver.

3. That said, Jordan McCrary is going to push Woodberry for minutes all season long. The Tar Heel fullback saw action in all three games, and scored in the finale for good measure. He may not be the speediest defender on the roster, but he’s easily the most intriguing rookie in camp.

4. Daigo Kobayashi’s minor knock could set the Revolution back more they’ll expect early on. It’s going to be a different world in the post-Jones era, and one player the club is counting on to ensure a smooth transition is none other than the Japanese international. However, with an undisclosed “minor” injury keeping him sidelined in all three matches, the current status of the defensive midfield probably isn’t making it easy for the technical staff to sleep at night.

5. Zach Herivaux could see considerable minutes before Xavier Kouassi gets here. While many eyes have been trained on McCrary’s introduction to the pro game, the use of Herivaux this winter has been a pleasant surprise. The latest Homegrown signing started in front of the first-team backline against San Jose, and saw action in all three games, as well.

6. Steve Neumann is having a strong camp. After a sub-bar sophomore season – one which ended with his option getting declined – the former Hoya has come alive this winter by showcasing some of the attacking instincts that warranted his early selection in the 2014 draft. Of course, translating preseason success into the regular season will be crucial for Neumann, who stands to get a decent shot at additional minutes with the central midfield situation in flux.

7. Charlie Davies is already in mid-season form. Anyone worried about Davies’ form after he scored twice in three games? Or about his hold on the starting striker’s spot? Anyone?

Photo credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

8. Ditto for Scott Caldwell. The only reason why Heaps’ beard isn’t completely gray? The knowledge that Caldwell is more than capable of getting the job done at the six spot. The cerebral center half snuffed out a pair of dangerous opportunities against Vancouver’s potent front four on Saturday, and by all accounts (social media and otherwise), appeared to be the lynch pin of the Revolution midfield whenever he was on the pitch.

9. The trialist most likely to make the squad: Jeb Brovsky. You’re not going to get flash or ferocity from the versatile MLS veteran. Then again, that’s not why he was brought here for a trial. With defensive depth a glaring need, Brovsky appears to be a prime candidate to remain with the squad when it flies to Houston ahead of Mar. 6.

10. Don’t count Michael Gamble out, though. While some questioned the club’s motivation for drafting a diminutive attacking midfielder in the second round, the Wake Forest product has proven his worth so far. In the 2-0 win over San Jose, Gamble was one of the club’s most impressive performers, and looked quite comfortable surrounded by his new teammates. At this rate, Gamble could very well earn a spot on a squad that’s already stocked with short, attack-minded midfielders.

11. The importance of Darrius Barnes to this club can’t be overstated. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who makes Heaps’ job easier other than the fellow Blue Devil, who missed the bulk of 2015 due to a knee injury. Barnes is not only capable of lining up at any of the four back line spots, but he also brings the kind of experience that goes a long way when you’re grooming guys like McCrary and, to a lesser extent, Woodberry. “A pro’s pro” is a phrase that gets thrown out by writers far too easily, but in this case, the description fits Barnes to a T.


  1. Peter

    February 8, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Re New York city they seem to b getting a lot of international soccer players I am quiet sure they will have to off load some player to get a international slot mayb the Revs can trade an international slot /spot 4 one of there players how about MULLINS back in a REVS uniform ??????

  2. Jim

    February 9, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    5. Zach Herivaux could see considerable minutes before Xavier Kouassi gets here.

    Sigh. Well, now with Kouassi out, by “considerable minutes” I suppose we mean “Is our only hope”.

    Darrius Barnes has been the unsung hero of this team for how long now? He survived the regime change from Nicol to Heaps, he’s versatile, and he always plays solidly when called upon. Barnes is the prototypical “MLS middle class” player that the league needs to find a way to pay. Love that guy.

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