PORTLAND, Ore. – Bilal Duckett was about to take a nap on Monday afternoon when his phone rang.
Duckett figured that the caller – Soccer Operations Manager, Jason Gove – needed some information about moving expenses. After all, Duckett had spent the past month on loan with the Rochester Rhinos (USL PRO) as part of an affiliation agreement with the New England Revolution.
But the call, as it turns out, was decidedly more exciting. Duckett was told he needed to get on a plane Tuesday afternoon and head across the country to Portland, Ore., where he’d be meeting up with the Revs for their Thursday night meeting with the Timbers.
“It’s been a crazy week,” Duckett said after playing the full 90 minutes at right back in the Revolution’s 0-0 draw with Portland. “I couldn’t be happier to be up here and fight and get this point with these guys.”
Recent injuries to defenders Andrew Farrell and A.J. Soares – coupled with the prolonged absence of Kevin Alston and the suspension of Chris Tierney – left the Revolution with holes to fill on the backline. Darrius Barnes made his first appearance of the season at left back, while Duckett stepped straight into the lineup on the right.
It was Duckett’s third career MLS start and his first since June 4, 2011, when he was a rookie with the Vancouver Whitecaps, but his recent stint with Rochester provided the confidence necessary for a seamless transition.
“I think people probably wondered early on this year how [the Rochester affiliation] was going to work,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “Bilal came from Rochester, we got him here, sat down with him, got him up to speed. That’s the good thing about having a player playing four or five games when we don’t have as many reserves. He stepped in, went 90 minutes and did a pretty good job.”
“It was a little bit tough (stepping in right away), but more than anything it was exciting,” said Duckett. “I just wanted to kind of feel my way into the game and make sure that I did everything that I could to be solid defensively, and then kind of start to feel my way into the game on the offensive side.”
Duckett did enough to help the Revs keep a clean sheet – their fifth in eight games – and leave Portland with a valuable point. Duckett was scheduled to return to Rochester on Friday as his teammates head back to Foxborough, but as he learned earlier this week, you always have to be ready for anything.
“You know, I really don’t (know what’s next),” Duckett said with a laugh. “I’ve got to be prepared for everything.”