Designated Player

Kouassi excited for future after visiting Revs: “Very happy to be in this family”

Xavier Kouassi with Mike Burns and Jay Heaps

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – While one newly-acquired Designated Player made his New England Revolution debut last weekend, another watched his first game from the Gillette Stadium stands.

Xavier Kouassi, who’ll officially join the Revolution roster at the expiration of his current contract with Swiss side FC Sion at the end of June, has spent the past week visiting his future club, and he took in Kei Kamara’s debut in last Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire.

Kouassi’s visit to New England was designed to get him acclimated to the staff, his teammates, and his future home, but also to allow the club’s doctors to examine his injured right knee.

“I think everything is going fine,” Kouassi said through a translator when asked how his rehab is progressing. “The physios are taking care of my knee. I also came to New England to see the doctor. I saw my colleagues. Everything went fine. I’m very grateful.

“I’ve been injured for three months, but my body is reacting the right way.”

Kouassi suffered the injury while playing with Sion in early February and underwent surgery shortly thereafter. There is no definitive timetable on when he’ll be healthy enough to begin training with the Revolution, but the player is hopeful that it could be before the conclusion of the current season.

“As soon as possible is best, but there is a protocol to follow. You can’t [skip] the stages,” Kouassi said. “Before the end of the season I will be able to integrate with the group and see what I can bring to the Revolution.”

The 26-year-old central midfielder has his sights set firmly on the future after a monumentally frustrating end to his time in Switzerland. Kouassi was set to captain Sion into the late stages of the Europa League before the injury brought his season to a crashing halt.

Sion was eliminated from the Europa League by Portuguese club Braga shortly after Kouassi’s injury.

“I wanted to finish the season with Sion,” Kouassi said. “The coach and the staff and the club were counting on me. It was very frustrating. But this frustration can become positive.”

Kouassi is now focusing that energy on a new challenge – returning to full health and beginning the next step of his young career in Major League Soccer with the Revolution.

“In life, there are challenges that we put out for ourselves,” Kouassi said. “It was time for me to go, to see another [league], and the door of MLS opened for me.

“I made a life choice, a career choice. Even though I’m injured, they’ve trusted me. It’s for me to [repay them] and bring the team what I can do, and also learn from this team.”

Kouassi will soon return to Switzerland, but it won’t be long before he makes the permanent move to New England. When he does, he’ll be comfortable in the knowledge that he made the right decision.

“I felt welcome. Everything went fine. The coach, the staff, the president were all nice. A very good atmosphere,” Kouassi said. “I’m very happy to be in this family.”