FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Rookie center back A.J. Soares is hopeful he’ll overcome a left groin strain in time to travel with his New England Revolution teammates to Toyota Park for Sunday afternoon’s meeting with the Chicago Fire.
Soares was forced off the field in the 58th minute of the Revolution’s 3-0 loss to the Portland Timbers last weekend at JELD-WEN Field and was listed as questionable on Tuesday’s injury report. Although he’s been limited in training this week, Soares is optimistic he’ll be available against the Fire.
“The groin’s sore,” Soares said after participating in passing drills during the team’s rain-soaked Thursday morning training session at Gillette Stadium. “It’s not 100 percent, but I feel like I could go in the game. There’s a good chance I’ll play and I’ll be feeling good. Once you get in the game, you don’t feel anything, so it should be fine.”
The steadiest presence on the Revolution’s backline this season, Soares has started all 27 games for which he’s been available, missing just two matches because of suspension. Until he was replaced early in the second half of last weekend’s game in Portland, Soares had played the full 90 minutes in each of his first 26 starts.
For a period of that meeting with the Timbers, Soares tried to play through the injury, noticeably favoring his left leg and stretching the groin whenever there was a stoppage. Ultimately the decision was made to remove Soares with both his own health and the team’s overall performance in mind.
“It’s the balance of thinking, ‘I need to suck it up and help my team,’ but at the same time, the other side is I don’t want to be out there if someone can come out and do a better job than me,” Soares said of his thought process. “I was feeling like I got to the point where I was hurting enough where someone could come in and do a better job than I was doing. I don’t want to hurt my team by being out there not at a high enough level.”
The aim for Soares is to be at a high enough level to contribute against Chicago, which has won three of its past four games as the Fire makes a desperate late-season playoff push. Soares hoped to resume full training on Friday morning and from his standpoint, he’s proceeding as if he’ll be on a plane to Chicago on Saturday afternoon.
“Ideally, [Friday’s training session] will show if I’m ready for the game or not,” Soares said. “At this point, I’m thinking I’m going.”