FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis can be pretty vocal both on and off the field.
It’s an unsurprising revelation to anyone who’s been within shouting distance of the affable veteran, never shy about organizing his backline. Still, it was a bit startling to hear Reis barking commands in Spanish during the Revolution’s opening preseason match against FC Tucson last weekend at Grande Sports World.
Reis wasn’t only showing off his Spanish vocabulary skills, but also directing – Right! Left! – Colombian center back John Lozano, who’s spent approximately one week in the United States and doesn’t understand more than a few words of English. The basic instructions appeared to work to perfection as Lozano seemed confident and the Revs were rarely troubled defensively during the newcomer’s 35-minute stint against FC Tucson.
Communication between a goalkeeper and his defenders is a critical aspect of the game, as the slightest breakdown could result in a defensive lapse and a goal conceded. The same could be said for communication between central defensive partners.
Against FC Tucson, Lozano partnered second-year center back A.J. Soares, and communication wasn’t an issue.
“I speak Spanish,” said Soares, who was born and raised in Solana Beach, Calif., just miles from the Mexican border. “Not perfectly, but I speak enough where we can communicate easily.”
Sharing a common language allows Lozano and Soares to make tactical adjustments quickly and effectively during the run of play, something which is done often in reaction to specific opponents. It’s most certainly a plus, but not a necessity, according to both Soares and head coach Jay Heaps.
Lozano’s keen awareness and superior positioning are ultimately more important than which language he speaks.
“He’s experienced and he knows exactly where to be,” said Soares. “So the communication is more body language. It’s one word, two words here and there.”
“Communication is really about positions,” added Heaps. “So far, I like what I’ve seen in their body communication, their tells, where one’s stepping and one’s dropping off.”
The pairing of Lozano and Soares has only seen 35 minutes of game action together and they’ll be challenged for playing time by Darrius Barnes, Stephen McCarthy and any additional center backs added to the roster, but early signs indicate a budding partnership between the duo.
“You can tell [John] has experience and he knows what he’s doing, because he’s always in the right position,” said Soares. “He’s already out there pointing guys around, leading a little bit and that experience is great. It was easy to play with him because he’s just always in the right position and helping me out. I thought we did pretty well together.”