FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After taking the weekend off to recover from their recent 11-day trip to Orlando, Fla., the New England Revolution returned to training on Monday morning with a pair of fresh faces in the mix.
Argentine defender Franco Coria and French midfielder Ousmane Dabo both joined their new teammates for the first time after receiving the necessary paperwork and arriving in the United States this past weekend, bringing an end to the tedious and drawn-out U.S. P-1 Visa process.
With only three training sessions scheduled before the Revs depart on another 11-day journey to Kennesaw, Ga., on Thursday, head coach Steve Nicol has made welcoming Coria and Dabo one of his top priorities during the Revolution’s brief stop in Foxborough.
“We’re just getting back in the swing,” said Nicol after Monday’s training session at the Dana-Farber Field House. “[We got] a couple of guys in today with Ousmane and Franco, so we’re just getting them acclimatized with the boys. (Then we’ll) get out of here and get back outside on the field.”
The Revolution’s newest duo – set to be joined in the near future by an outside midfielder from Nigeria, according to Nicol – will barely settle into their surroundings in New England before re-packing their bags and heading to Georgia for a critical preseason trip. Included will be a pair of matches against the Columbus Crew (March 6; March 9) and one final test against the Houston Dynamo (March 13) just one week before the season begins.
While the whirlwind travel isn’t ideal so soon after their arrival, Nicol said the experience will be vital for Coria and Dabo in their quest to ready themselves for the season opener against the LA Galaxy on March 20.
“The longer all the paperwork goes – although they’re doing their own work – they lose a bit of sharpness,” said Nicol of the limbo players find themselves in when they’ve signed with a team but can’t join them for training pending Visa approval. “It’s good to get them in now so they’ll be ready to go at the start of the season.”
With Coria and Dabo on board and the aforementioned outside midfielder on the way, the Revolution’s 2011 roster is beginning to take shape. Nicol is satisfied with his club’s depth across the field – particularly in the midfield and central defense – but noted one final move for a goal-scoring forward is necessary to round out the lineup.
“I think we have decent choices everywhere,” said Nicol. “The one thing we’d probably look to finish it up with is another striker. Everywhere else I think we’re pretty strong and we have competition.
“We’re looking for somebody who can score some goals, primarily,” Nicol continued when asked what style of forward tops his wish list. “If they have other talents, as well, then that’s great. But the main objective is to get a real goal scorer into the squad.”
The Revs have ample space on their roster for the forward Nicol desires, as the club currently has only 21 players under contract (not counting the impending Nigerian signing). Training camp invitees Zak Boggs, Ryan Kinne, Alan Koger, Andrew Sousa and Tim Murray are still fighting for spots, although fellow hopefuls Fernando Cabadas, Roberto Linck and Steven Perry were released from camp prior to Monday’s session.
While decisions still loom as the Revs look to fill out their squad in the coming weeks, Nicol is pleased with the shape his side is taking following the arrivals of Coria and Dabo.
“Dabo just keeps the ball, plain and simple. That’s what we’re looking for from him (with) the experience he has,” Nicol said. “Coria loves to pass the ball and he loves to defend. I’m sure that’ll light a fire under the guys we have already fighting for a spot.”