Designated Player

Kouassi poised to be an impactful addition in 2017: “He’s a leader on the field”

Xavier Kouassi and Kei Kamara Open Cup final

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution’s coaching staff recently returned from their first scouting trip of the offseason, but one of the club’s most significant additions ahead of the 2017 season may already be on the roster.

Xavier Kouassi, signed as a Designated Player last February, missed the entire 2016 season while recovering from right knee surgery. It was a devastating blow for both the player and the Revs, who’d expected the former FC Sion captain to be a force at the base of New England’s midfield.

Those expectations have merely been delayed, however, and when Kouassi is at full health in 2017, head coach Jay Heaps is confident that Revolution will be adding a highly influential player.

“We’re expecting that type of (big) impact on the field,” Heaps said. “He’s a leader on the field; someone who’s going to step in there and help us have a personality in midfield, and continue to have a personality in midfield, and play a role that helps defend and protect our back four.”

Kouassi was making steady progress when the Revolution’s season was cut short three weeks ago. Wearing a hefty brace on his right knee, the 26-year-old was working with New England’s strength and conditioning staff on sprinting, cutting, and basic ball work.

That progress will continue gradually throughout the next two months, with the expectation that Kouassi will enter preseason camp on January 23 fully healthy and with no limitations.

“That’s the hope,” Heaps said. “It’s a longer offseason than we’d all like, but it’s good for him to continue his progression. He was starting to get into training the last couple days and weeks of practice, but now it’s about getting him up to game speed.”