TUCSON, Ariz. – Another year of the Desert Diamond Cup kicks off on Wednesday night when the New England Revolution take on Real Salt Lake (10 p.m. ET with a live stream available), and the Revs could feature a couple of new faces when they take the field at Kino North Stadium.
Central midfielder Gershon Koffie and center back Sambinha both met up with their new squad on Sunday when the Revs arrived in Arizona, and they already have a trio of training sessions under their belts as they adjust to a new system and style of play.
The next step will be participating in a preseason match, and for Koffie match fitness is no issue at all after making the move from Vancouver Whitecaps FC. In fact, the 24-year-old midfielder featured for the Whitecaps against the Revs in a preseason friendly less than two weeks ago.
“Gershon’s been in full preseason mode,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “You can see he’s transitioned quickly right into what we’re doing.”
While Koffie could well make his Revolution preseason debut on Wednesday night, fans might have to wait a little bit longer to see Sambinha in action. Acquired on loan from partner Sporting Clube de Portugal, the 23-year-old defender had been playing regularly in the Portuguese second division, but lost a bit of fitness as the process to acquire a P1-visa dragged on longer than expected.
“It’s a tale of two different scenarios, because Sambinha had a longer trip, a longer flight,” said Heaps. “Unfortunately the last couple weeks – the visa process and getting a work permit – took a little bit longer than we thought.
“I think he’s a little bit behind, but we’ve got to make sure we move him along at the right speed.”
That could mean keeping Sambinha on the sidelines on Wednesday night, allowing him at least two more training sessions on Thursday and Friday before debuting him later in the competition.
“We want to be mindful of where they are,” Heaps said. “Sambinha, for sure, is a little bit earlier in the process and we don’t want to risk injury. The ultimate game is March 6, it’s not the preseason games. We want to get there with our guys rather than force too much.”