New England Soccer Today

Caraglio Shows Promise

Diego Fagundez grabbed all the headlines, but he wasn’t the only one making his MLS debut for the New England Revolution on Saturday. Fellow striker Milton Caraglio – upon whom huge expectations have been placed after the 22-year-old signed a contract making him the Revs’ first Designated Player last week – also made his first appearance for the club in the team’s 3-2 loss to Chivas USA.

The Argentine, who hadn’t played a competitive game in over a year, clearly wasn’t match fit and was noticeably tired as the match wore on. Yet despite the expected fitness issues, Caraglio managed to show some of the quality fans and the coaching staff are expecting from him.

No, Caraglio wasn’t dribbling through the Chivas’ backline or leaping above defenders to get on the end of the Revolution crosses. The young striker isn’t quite physically ready for that.

But what he did display at times was a good touch, offensive awareness, the ability to hold up the ball to wait for support and a strong desire to get involved in the action in the final third.

“We want [Caraglio] to get up to speed,” said Revs head coach Steve Nicol. “He can hold the ball up – you saw him holding the ball up tonight. Obviously that extra yard that that he has in his brain, his legs aren’t following him yet, which means he’s not getting away from people. Once he gets up to speed, you’ll probably see that.”

For a team that has still failed to come close to replacing the productivity of all-time leading scorer Taylor Twellman since the striker’s career was essentially ended by injury in 2008, getting Caraglio to full fitness quickly and discovering if he truly is the answer up top is vital for the Revs future.  Whether the team is to make a miraculous run to the playoffs, or more realistically build for next season, they’ll need to drastically improve what has been the league’s worst offense, averaging less than a goal per game this season.

The coaching staff must believe Caraglio will be a big part of the answer – or they wouldn’t have spent the money to make him the team’s first Designated Player. And Nicol expects to see much more for his new striker in the coming weeks.

“The one thing with Milton is he’s not fit-enough yet,” said Nicol after Saturdasy’s match. “He’s been on his offseason. He’s been doing some training on his own, but there’s a world of difference between training every day with a team and doing your own stuff. So, once we can get him up to speed – hopefully that will be sooner, rather than later – then you’ll see a lot more from him.”

“He can hold the ball up and bring people in,” he added. “He’s shown that he can score goals, as well. So that’s the combination we’re looking for from him.”

For Caraglio’s part, the six-foot-two striker who had played his entire career in Argentina before joining the Revs wasn’t surprised by anything he saw in his debut, including the quality of the league.

“I was anticipating [this high level of play],” he said through a translator. “This is a very difficult league and it’s been a year since I last played a match. The truth is that I felt pretty well with my teammates and well, [we have to] work hard for the next match so we can get a victory.”

The young striker said he was feeling good physically after the match – better than he expected – and came through his 62 minutes of play without any injuries. But the former Rosario Central striker who trialed with English Premier League outfit West Ham United last summer knows what’s most important for him and the team is results. The result wasn’t there on Saturday.

“I wasn’t expecting this result, but the next match will be better,” Caraglio said.

And it will need to be much better. With the Revs facing another vital clash on the road Saturday against an Eastern Conference foe in the suddenly surging Columbus Crew, anything less than three points will all but put an end to the Revs already fragile playoff hopes.

One Comment

  1. Nan

    August 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I think Caraglio will be a great Rev if his knee holds out. Now explain to me why we don’t or can’t sign Fagundez.

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