TUCSON, Ariz. – New England Revolution center back Benjamin Angoua took a significant step in his progression on Monday morning, participating in his first full training session with the Revs since joining the club in late January.
Angoua arrived carrying a slight hamstring injury – suffered in his final appearance with Ligue 1 side EA Guingamp – and spent much of the Revolution’s first preseason trip to Casa Grande, Arizona, recovering from the knock. The 30-year-old Ivorian then missed the beginning of the current trip to Tucson, Arizona, while traveling to finalize his P1 visa.
But with his visa situation sorted and his hamstring healed, Angoua was able to join his teammates full-go for Monday’s 90-minute session in the Arizona heat.
“It was good to have him in the group,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “He was able to watch the game the other night (against Colorado), but this was the first real training session that he was able to go full. We’ve got some work to do, but it was good to get him in the mix.”
Part of that work is continually increasing Angoua’s fitness – he hadn’t completed a full training session in more than a month before Monday – but perhaps the most important task is developing a partnership between Angoua and fellow central defensive signing Antonio Mlinar Delamea.
Angoua and Delamea were paired up for large portions of Monday’s session, as the Revs work to build a bond between their two new center backs and the rest of the backline.
“We’re trying to build the partnerships and the relationships,” Heaps said. “It’s defending, it’s linking into the attack and it’s making sure that we’re comfortable all the way across the back four.”
Heaps said the plan is to get Angoua important preseason minutes in the Desert Diamond Cup, which continues on Wednesday when the Revs will take on Sporting Kansas City (1 p.m. ET, streaming live on revolutionsoccer.net and YouTube) and concludes on Saturday against a yet-to-be-determined opponent at a yet-to-be-determined time.