Short-handed Revs forced to improvise
New England's punishment for collecting
two red cards in Saturday night's 1-1 draw with FC Dallas won't end until coach
Steve Nicol ushers his makeshift side through Wednesday's visit by Chivas USA.
While Kheli Dube and Joseph Niouky set to serve one-match
bans against the Red-and-White, Nicol must figure out a way to replace players
in two spots where he doesn't have ample cover at the moment.
“We have no choice,” Nicol told MLSsoccer on Thursday.
“We've got to be creative. We'll just sort ourselves out.”
Picking the team could prove troublesome considering the
spots vacated by those two particular players.
Dube offers the only option as an out-and-out forward who
can hold the ball up and facilitate play, with Edgaras Jankauskas still
presumably short of the fitness required to feature from the outset.
Niouky's absence, meanwhile, exposes the dearth of central
midfield options with Shalrie Joseph (leave of absence), Emmanuel Osei (right
leg infection) and now Michael Videira (right ankle) all unavailable.
Although the Revs will have to adjust to whatever changes
Nicol decides to make, they will enter the game with a similar mentality,
according to midfielder Chris Tierney.
“We approach it the same way,” Tierney said. “We're
confident in the depth of our squad this year. We think that we can plug guys
in and our game is not going to fall off in terms of the quality. Sometimes,
change is good. I don't think we've been passing and keeping the ball
particularly well in the past couple of games. It's unfortunate for us that we
have players out, but it's an opportunity for us to get a little bit of a fresh
start in a way.”
The versatile Tierney will press for a recall after he was
left out of the squad to face FC Dallas while nursing a left knee sprain.
Khano Smith could also vie to fill one of the two open slots
in the starting XI as he bids to make his first start of the campaign.
Kenny Mansally could also come into consideration depending
on where Nicol decides to play Marko Perovic, and how he attempts to fill the
void in central midfield.
Figuring out the right solution to the conundrum in the
center of the park takes on additional significance with the possession-oriented
Red-and-White poised to deploy a five-man midfield alignment. New England has
struggled to deal with similar approaches its past two matches, so the revamped
Revs will have to figure out the solution quickly in order to salvage a victory
from this three-match homestand.
Defender Darrius Barnes dubbed this match a must-win affair
for the Revs after they secured just one point from the previous two matches at
Gillette Stadium, and suggested a quick start would help them to secure the desired
“I think this game is going to be a battle,” Barnes said. “I
feel like the two teams are very similar right now, so it's going to be a
battle. Whoever imposes their will first will come out on top.”