FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps faces a difficult choice in central defense ahead of Saturday's visit from Philadelphia.
Heaps has named José Gonçalves and A.J. Soares in that department for each of the club's six games this season. Soares, however, may not feature in a seventh consecutive match after sustaining a right hamstring strain during Saturday's 4-1 defeat at New York.
Soares' projected absence opens up a spot in the back four. Heaps said he will lean on his depth – including a group of potential options that includes Darrius Barnes, Andrew Farrell (if shifted inside from his usual role on the right) and Stephen McCarthy – to provide the replacement.
“It's what we've been preaching all year: you want to have a deep team,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com. “With Darrius (Barnes) and Stephen McCarthy, we're ready to go. When someone goes down – and A.J.'s been very good for us in these first few games – we have to have guys ready to go. It's their opportunity.”
McCarthy emerged as the favorite to earn the nod after Heaps turned to him when Soares limped off at Red Bull Arena. The former starter made his first appearance of the 2013 campaign when he climbed off the bench to replace his injured teammate.
Heaps reinforced the prospect of competition for the spot in midweek, but he noted that he thought McCarthy performed well after stepping into the breach on Saturday.
“I thought he did well,” Heaps said. “He's good on the ball. He's another passer that helps us to keep possession. He and José have only been paired together a few times together during preseason. There's a partnership that needs to be developed a little bit, but I thought Macca – in the circumstances and in the situation – handled himself very well.”