Joseph back as Revs prepare for TFC
Few in MLS circles could have missed the tumult in Toronto
earlier this week after club captain Jim Brennan abruptly retired and joined
the front office on Wednesday.
Just don't expect New England to pay any attention to
Brennan's retirement or any other signs of upheaval north of the border as it
prepares to face Toronto FC in its home opener on Saturday night.
“We're not concerned about what's going on or whatever may
be happening in Toronto,” Revolution midfielder Chris Tierney told MLSsoccer.com on
Friday. “We're worried about what's happening in New England and we were happy
with the result last weekend. There was definitely some good stuff we can take
from our performance, especially in the second half. We're looking to carry
that into this week.”
As New England attempts to build on last Saturday's 2-0 win
at D.C. United, it can turn to Shalrie Joseph to bolster the cause for the
first time this season. Joseph missed the first two games of the campaign with
a right hip flexor strain, but Revolution coach Steve Nicol said the 2009 MLS
MVP finalist is fit to play against the Reds after returning to full training
“Obviously, at the start of the week, he's a wee bit rusty
because he hasn't kicked a ball for [a few] weeks,” Nicol said. “It looks like
he's gotten that out of his system, so he's good to go.”
Joseph may represent the most notable change to a side that
carries a 174-minute shutout streak into the contest. Either Joseph Niouky or
Pat Phelan will drop out of the side to accommodate Joseph's return, but there
may be no room made to accommodate Darrius Barnes (right hip flexor strain)
despite his return to full fitness, or Kenny Mansally after his match-winning
brace against United.
“He scored two fantastic goals, but the truth is that he's
not consistent enough to start,” Nicol said of Mansally. “That's why he came
off the bench last week, because he wasn't consistent enough over the 90
minutes to start. It's also good to have that (option) sitting beside you so if
you need something, you know he's capable of doing that.”
Marko Perovic represents another potential attacking option
for Nicol off the pine after he arrived from Switzerland on Thursday night.
Perovic trained with his new teammates on Friday morning, but Nicol said the
Serbian midfielder will start the match on the bench and could feature if
circumstances dictate his presence on the field.
Despite the additions to the squad, New England is still
missing several potential contributors. Long-term injury victims Matt Reis
(left knee and shoulder surgeries) and Taylor Twellman (concussion) remain
sidelined, while Mauricio Castro (right ankle pain), Nico Colaluca (left knee
sprain) and Edgaras Jankauskas (right calf strain) are also out.
As New England attempts to deliver Nicol his 100th MLS win
on Saturday night, it will likely look past the squad changes and focus on how
to maintain its defensive structure while pushing forward in search of
Revolution defender Kevin Alston said his side needs to
adhere to its defensive shape while improving its play in possession in order
to come away with the three points.
“For us, our game plan is the same,” Alston told MLSsoccer.com
earlier this week. “We have to be solid all the way around. We have to keep the
ball and we have to keep [new TFC captain Dwayne] De Rosario in check. We have
to communicate and look out for each other.”