FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The time had come to “shake things up a little bit.”
That’s what New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said following Tuesday afternoon’s trade with the New York Red Bulls which brought forward Andre Akpan to New England and sent Saer Sene in the other direction. The Revs also received an undisclosed amount of allocation money, while New York obtains one of the Revolution’s international roster spots through the end of this season.
“I think we’re adding, first and foremost, a healthy attacking player in Andre,” said Heaps. “We’re excited about what he’s going to bring to our group. We got to a point where we wanted to shake things up a little bit and make sure that we continue to get better going forward.”
Throughout their recent dip in form (1-9-0 since late May) the Revs have made no secret of their desire to add attacking weapons, and they’re hopeful Akpan can be a piece to that puzzle. The 26-year-old forward boasts a unique combination of size and pace which he’s used to bag modest totals of four goals and two assists in 41 career appearances with the Red Bulls and Colorado Rapids.
Sene – who had both his 2012 and 2013 seasons cut short by major injury but recovered to make 10 appearances this year – was deployed primarily as a winger in the Revolution’s hybrid 4-1-4-1/4-3-3 formation. But Akpan’s skill-set is more suited for a central role, which represents a more pressing need.
“This move was made to change the dynamic a little bit; to bring in a different kind of player than what Saer had given us over the last couple years,” said General Manager Michael Burns. “Andre’s more of a holdup, true number nine. That’s an area we’re looking to strengthen.”
“He’s a big, strong player – fast and can hold the ball,” Heaps said. “I think he’s had some opportunity in this league, he has some experience in this league and he’s going to come in and fight right away.”
Akpan is expected to arrive in Foxborough on Wednesday and could join his new Revolution teammates on the training field as early as Thursday, potentially making him available for Saturday’s home game against the Portland Timbers. The move to New England will be a familiar one for the Texas native, who spent four years in Cambridge while attending Harvard University from 2006 to 2010.
While Akpan will be tasked with providing further competition in the fight for playing time, Tuesday’s trade doesn’t signal the end of the Revolution’s quest for reinforcements. Free transfers and moves within MLS are permitted through mid-September, and the Revs will continue to do everything they can to bolster the squad until rosters are frozen.
“This move still allows us the flexibility to add a player or two before the roster freeze date of September 15,” said Burns. “This move does not prevent us from making additional moves.”