FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The national media has offered up some high praise for the New England Revolution’s red-hot attacking corps in recent weeks.
Lee Nguyen continues to have his name mentioned in early-season MVP discussions, Patrick Mullins has planted himself firmly in the Rookie of the Year debate, and Diego Fagundez has earned back-to-back MLS Team of the Week nods.
It’s been deserved praise, for sure, but one of the unsung heroes behind New England’s recent surge has been central midfielder Daigo Kobayashi. Along with Nguyen and holding midfielder Andy Dorman, Kobayashi has played a major role in helping solidify the center of the park for the Revs, both forcing turnovers with his defensive positioning and springing attacks with his vision and creativity.
“He’s been spot on,” head coach Jay Heaps said of the former Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder. “He and Dorman have just really allowed our other guys to play.
“Daigo reads the game so well. His first touch is one of the best in the league and his game awareness is world class. You can see he’s been in big games. He knows how to settle a game down, he knows how to win balls back and he knows how to pressure, so he’s been an excellent addition to our team.”
It didn’t take long for Kobayashi to settle into New England’s midfield following a preseason trade from Vancouver, which declined his 2014 contract option. The 31-year-old veteran is still searching for his first goal with the Revs, but he’s already registered three assists, tied with Teal Bunbury for the team lead.
Now with Kelyn Rowe once again pushing for a place in the starting lineup after returning from injury, Kobayashi could find himself in a battle for playing time in the coming weeks. But if he continues to perform at his current level, he’ll make it hard for the Revs coaching staff to take him off the field.
“Daigo has been unbelievable all season,” said Bunbury. “When he’s on the ball, he’s so technical. Even when you don’t think he sees you making a run, he can find you that ball. Overall, his defensive work, his attacking presence – he’s been having a great season.”