FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England coach Jay Heaps took action shortly after he saw Bobby Shuttleworth and A.J. Soares collide in the early stages of a 4-1 defeat to Vancouver last week.
Heaps noticed the effects of that blow – incurred on a free kick shortly before the Whitecaps' third goal – on Soares and truncated the center back's anticipated participation in the match shortly thereafter. The move represented a necessary precaution to ensure Soares' health going forward, according to Heaps.
“It looked like he hurt his neck a little bit from a collision on the sideline,” Revolution coach Jay Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Monday afternoon. “He had to leave, but he only had another 15 minutes left to play [anyways].”
The prudent course of action sidestepped any further fallout. The incident – plus any knocks picked up earlier in the match – did not leave any lasting effects. Soares trained with the Revs on Monday afternoon and said he felt fine in the wake of the collision.
“I'm back out here,” Soares said. “It's just the preseason things, you know? Little bumps and bruises. That's it.”
Soares' renewed participation offers a boost to Heaps and the Revs as they attempt to sort out their back four heading into 2013. The arrivals of Andrew Farrell and José Gonçalves have increased the competition for places in defense, but Soares' early performances ensure he will not cede his place in the starting XI without a fight.
“His fitness level has been great,” Heaps said. “It's the first time he's been healthy for the last year. He's healthier than he was last year because he had the ankle surgery last offseason. He's in really good form right now. He's really starting to become a communicator back there and someone we need to lead that back four.”