FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – During a recent virtual meet and greet with New England Revolution supporters, A.J. DeLaGarza was asked which of his new teammates had impressed him the most through his first few months with the club.
DeLaGarza didn’t hesitate with his answer: Wilfrid Kaptoum.
“I think in training you can see that he can dribble out of things, and that’s, I think, exactly what this team needs in that midfield role,” DeLaGarza said of the 24-year-old product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy. “I think, for me, he’ll be one of the most special players on this team this year.”
Kaptoum, who was limited by an injury in preseason and played just eight minutes off the bench in the season opener in Chicago, finally had his opportunity to play extended minutes in a game situation last weekend against D.C. United. Starting alongside Matt Polster in central midfield Kaptoum went 64 minutes, consistently evading pressure on the dribble and serving as the bridge between defense and attack as the Revs battled to a 1-0 win.
That hour-long performance provided a brief window into Kaptoum’s quality, which will only continue to shine brighter as he regains full fitness and has more time to form on-field relationships with his teammates.
“He’s very composed on the ball, very good technically with the ball,” said assistant coach Richie Williams. “[He’s] linking up from the back four into our attacking players, finding little spaces playing in between lines, and then on the flip side being able to defend in that position, too, which is important, and which is something I think as he gets fully fit he’ll get a little bit more comfortable with.
“But [he’s a] very talented player, and again, it’s going to take some time and he’s got to get back to full fitness, but we’re looking forward to him contributing quite a bit this season.”
Time will also strengthen Kaptoum’s partnership with Polster, who shifts to more of a defensive-minded No. 6 position alongside Kaptoum, who fills more of a box-to-box No. 8 role. Although they have less than a full game’s worth of time together on the field, Polster felt the early signs were positive.
“I thought we did well together for our first real minutes, because obviously he was injured through preseason, so we didn’t have much time to get used to each other,” Polster said. “But I thought for the first game in a tough match, I thought we really balanced off each other pretty well, so I think it can only improve from there and see how we do against Atlanta.”
Kaptoum and the Revs will host Atlanta United FC on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET with television coverage on myTV38 and myRITV, while the radio call will be available on both 98.5 The Sports Hub (English) and WBIX 1260 AM Nossa Radio (Portuguese).