FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There should be plenty of fresh legs when the New England Revolution return to action on Saturday night against Orlando City SC, and there could be a fresh face in the mix, as well.
Cristhian Machado, officially signed early last week, has received his international transfer certificate and will be available for selection when the Revs visit the Lions at Orlando City Stadium (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Boston, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
“He could potentially be in the mix,” head coach Brad Friedel said of Machado. “We’ll assess his fitness, but generally his fitness looks very good. I’m sure he’ll be involved on the weekend.”
Friedel and his staff have been assessing Machado’s fitness for the past week, as the Bolivian international has been training with the Revolution since last Tuesday. Although his English is limited, the 28-year-old has settled in comfortably to his new surroundings.
“It’s not easy when you come into another country where you’ve never played in the league, never spoken the language,” Friedel said. “He’s assimilated himself very well so far. Bubbly character, good guy, hard worker, and he’ll take no time at all settling in.”
Machado has not only made an impression on his head coach, but also on his teammates.
“Cristhian’s an awesome guy inside the locker room,” said Diego Fagundez. “Playing-wise, you know what he brings to the table. He wants to play, he wants to touch the ball, he wants to move around, so he’s definitely going to bring a lot to us. We just have to get him out there and make sure he’s fit.”
As for where Machado will feature for New England when he does take the field, that remains to be seen. He’s been billed as a versatile player who can play in central midfield and across the backline, although Friedel made it clear that he’s not being groomed as a first-choice option at left back.
“Right now we’re looking at him in other positions,” Friedel said. “If he needs to fill in at left back at some stage, then possibly he could do that, but that’s not where we’re looking at this moment in time.”
Machado spent the majority of his career in Bolivia as a holding midfielder, and he gave a diplomatic response when asked via interpreter where he feels most comfortable, saying that he’ll play wherever the Revolution coaching staff feel he’ll best help the team.
Machado, who called the move to MLS “a step forward” in his career and “a dream come true,” referenced family in Virginia, saying he’s eager to play in front of them, and perhaps that opportunity will come on Saturday night at Orlando City Stadium.
As the Revs prepare for one potential debut, they continue to work on bringing in additional reinforcements ahead of the close of the secondary transfer window next Wednesday, August 8.
“We’re working tirelessly on it,” Friedel said on Tuesday afternoon. “Hopefully in the next 24-48 hours we’ll have another agreement in place. If we don’t, then we’ll just keep working.
“We have an excellent array of scouts around the globe, we have a lot of contacts around the globe, and there’s no doubt we’ll be bringing in at least another face. The exact time? I don’t know. We’re working hard on it.”