FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There’s been a heavy focus this week on the return of Kelyn Rowe from international duty, offering the New England Revolution a much-needed boost ahead of Saturday night’s meeting with the LA Galaxy (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Boston).
But the Revs will soon get an additional lift in central midfield as Xavier Kouassi inches closer to a return from the quad injury that has sidelined him for the past seven weeks.
Kouassi has been a full participant in training for the past two weeks as he builds towards 100 percent fitness, and was even available on the bench for last week’s U.S. Open Cup meeting with the New York Red Bulls, although head coach Jay Heaps said that was mostly a product of circumstance.
“We only had 18 available players other than the third goalkeeper, so we were kind of numbers-crunched there,” Heaps said. “There wasn’t a real plan to play [Kouassi], but it was good that he’s progressing. This week, we’ve really been able to get him into training well.”
When Kouassi does return – whether it be this weekend against LA or in the near future – he’ll help solidify the Revolution’s central midfield. As a ball-winner and facilitator, he often sparks New England’s attack. As a defensive presence, he protects the Revs’ back four when under pressure.
Those qualities will be critical as the Revs push deeper into the summer months.
“He does the simple things extremely well,” said goalkeeper Cody Cropper. “When Kouassi comes in, he really sits and he really owns that defensive midfield role. He really protects the two center backs.”