New England Soccer Today

Heaps: Revs ‘Upset’ About Kouassi Injury

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There’s always a certain amount of risk involved when a club signs a player in the midst of finishing out his current season to a pre-contract. Sometimes, all it takes to throw a wrench into both parties’ plans is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Call it fate or misfortune, but soon-to-be Revolution midfielder Xavier Kouassi found himself in that exact situation on Sunday near the hour mark of FC Sion’s Swiss Super League match against FC Zurich.

Kouassi, who was signed to a designated player pre-contract that would’ve put him in a Revolution uniform in July, was carted off the pitch in Sunday’s game with a torn ACL, thus diminishing any hopes that he’d make a profound impact on the Foxborough outfit’s fortunes in 2016.

“(It) hurts because he was a player that we expected to help us,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps said on Wednesday. “But at the same time, he’ll rebound from this and hopefully, he’ll be even stronger than before.”

That hope is all Heaps has to hold onto concerning a player he was showering with praise only eight days ago.

“Ball-winner,” “grit,” “leader,” and “smart“ were all terms used by Heaps last week to describe the club’s newest signing, who was set to bolster the squad at a juncture of the season in which they’ve historically hit the rocks: the early summer.

Instead, the Revolution may have to wait until next year to see Kouassi don the navy blue kit. After he undergoes surgery on Tuesday in Switzerland, the 26-year-old midfielder is expected to be sidelined for 6-9 months, with the latter number signifying the most realistic timeframe according to one particular player who can attest to the recovery process.

Revolution rookie fullback Jordan McCrary tore his ACL in the summer of 2014, and he told that he hadn’t even stepped on the pitch at the six month mark.

“I started playing around seven and a half months,” McCrary said, “and I was really getting after it after eight months, and then I was 100% ready to go.”

While Kouassi’s injury obviously won’t make Heaps’ life any easier this year, the Revolution coach empathized with the situation that the midfielder finds himself in. Kouassi was in the midst of leading Sion to a remarkable Europa League run, one that’ll continue on without him.

“We’re upset for the player,” Heaps said. “I know how important the Europa League was to him. He helped get that team that far to advance to the knockout stages, a really small club that doesn’t have the spending power of the huge clubs in the world, they were really relying on him to carry them through the knockout stage.”

Heaps said it was for that reason – Sion’s Europa League success – that the Swiss side wasn’t willing to sign off on a transfer that would’ve allowed the Revolution to bring him in during the winter window. That, and the fact that Kouassi himself wanted to see the tournament through.

But with Kouassi unable to help any team until August at the earliest, Heaps’ focus remains on the present, and the players currently under his watch.

“For us, it’s business as usual,” Heaps sad.”(It’s about) getting our guys and coaching our guys to be ready for the season.”

Meanwhile, Heaps recently told the media that the club remains in negotiations with former designated player Jermaine Jones, who is still unsigned after turning down the Revolution’s latest offer. But Heaps insisted that Kouassi’s injury won’t change the club’s approach in its discussions with Jones.

“It’s two separate things for us,” Heaps said. “Either way, (Kouassi) will be joining us at some point and with that, it’s like I said before, there’s dialogue (with Jones), and we’ll just have to see how that plays out.”

Despite the misfortune that’s felled both the Revolution and Kouassi, Heaps said that the club will stick by its injured midfielder, and hold onto the belief that he’ll make an impact – whether it’s this year, or next year.

“Pre-contracts are pretty set in stone,” Heaps said in reference to the possibility of cutting ties with Kouassi. “I think we worked diligently on that and this was obviously the risk. He’s still a player we feel like at 26, will recover well and make an impact at some point.”

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