Jay Heaps

Changes required as Revs head to Houston

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution’s starting lineup will have a different look when it takes the field to battle the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Injuries and international commitments will force head coach Jay Heaps to make at least three changes to the squad which claimed a dramatic 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls last weekend in Foxborough. Both Flo Lechner (R MCL sprain) and Lee Nguyen (R shoulder surgery) have been ruled out for the rest of the season, while Ryan Guy is currently representing Guam at a tournament in the Philippines.

Coupled with the additional absences of Saer Sene (L ACL surgery) and Chris Tierney (L knee sprain/L hamstring strain), plus the tenuous status of Clyde Simms – listed as doubtful with tightness in his right calf – there will no doubt be opportunities for others to increase their playing time in the coming weeks.

“Guys who feel like they deserve to get a shot, they’re going to get a shot,” said center back A.J. Soares. “It’s definitely a time for people to come out and show the coach what they can do, try to establish a spot on the team, try to push the starters and push them for their spots.”

The absences of Guy and Nguyen open up a pair of places in midfield, an area where the Revs have a wealth of options. Fernando Cardenas, Benny Feilhaber, Blair Gavin and Juan Toja will all press for additional time after starting last weekend’s match on the bench, while chances could also be presented to players like Sainey Nyassi, Alec Purdie and Michael Roach.

Choices are a bit thinner on the backline with Lechner, Tierney and rookie left back Tyler Polak (R foot sprain) all sidelined. When Lechner went off injured against New York, the defensive unit featured Kevin Alston (left) and Darrius Barnes (right) at the outside back positions, flanking Stephen McCarthy and Soares in the middle.

“We’ve got some guys who are versatile, so we have to rely on those guys,” said Heaps. “But there’s also opportunities for some of the younger guys who’ve played [outside back] in training and reserve games. I think there’ll be some opportunities there, as well.”

The fight for playing time has ratcheted up the intensity in training as players look to grab the attention of the coaching staff, and Soares believes a similar passion will be on display as those players try to make the most of their opportunities this weekend against the Dynamo.

“Whenever there’s competition like that, it’s always good for the team,” he said. “It’s going to increase the level of play. I think everyone’s excited to finish the season strong and it starts here with Houston.”