Kouassi poised to return in Portland: “Very important that we have him for selection”

Xavier Kouassi (2) vs. FC Dallas

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Xavier Kouassi could be in line for a return to the New England Revolution lineup on Sunday night after sitting out the club’s victory over Minnesota United FC last weekend.

Kouassi was available on the bench but didn’t play against MNUFC, one week after he made his MLS debut with a 79-minute stint against FC Dallas. It was the 27-year-old midfielder’s first competitive game action in 13 months, having spent more than a year recovering from right knee surgery.

Head coach Jay Heaps said Kouassi could’ve played somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes against Minnesota if necessary, but because New England were in control from the early stages, the decision was made to be cautious with his progression.

“He exacerbated a knock in the Dallas game, so last week, he just didn’t have enough time to recover and be ready to prepare and be ready for the start of the match,” Heaps said. “Totally different this week; he’s out there day one, getting his sharpness back and getting his fitness back.”

Kouassi has been a full participant in training this week, and Heaps indicated that the holding midfielder could be key to the Revolution’s ability to limit Portland Timbers playmakers Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe and Sebastian Blanco on Sunday night (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

“It’s very important that we have him for selection, that we have the ability to use him,” Heaps said.