FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Same player, different number.
Gershon Koffie – wearing the No. 5 jersey instead of his previous No. 7 – re-debuted for the New England Revolution in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Columbus Crew SC, coming off the bench to play the second half as the Revs altered their formation and closed out a critical victory.
Koffie was a bit short on fitness having seen limited time during his brief stint with Hammarby IF, but the 25-year-old central midfielder says it’s only a matter of time before he’s back to full strength.
“I feel tired,” he said with a smile after playing 45 minutes against Columbus. “I feel like I played 92 minutes because I haven’t played games for a while. But it’s getting there.”
“He’s not 90 minutes fit yet, but he’s been working hard,” added head coach Jay Heaps. “We felt like he was going to be close, just a matter of how many minutes – 45 was probably the max we were going to play him, but it was a moment when we needed a player that had some experience.”
Experience is something Koffie has in spades, having made more than 100 appearances in MLS, including 22 with the Revolution in 2016. That familiarity with both his teammates and opponents has made for a smooth transition back to Foxborough.
“He jumped into training [last Friday and Saturday] and just fit in like a glove,” Heaps said. “This is not an international player that you’re signing that you haven’t seen. He came in and he probably knows players as well as (Xavier) Kouassi does, in terms of who they are. That was great.”
Kouassi played alongside Koffie at the base of New England’s 4-2-3-1 setup in the second half of the win over Columbus, forming a partnership that Revolution fans were deprived of last season as Kouassi spent the entire year sidelined by injury.
The duo shares a similar hard-nosed style that gives New England a gritty quality in midfield.
“I really like that I played 45 minutes with him and enjoyed every second on the field,” Koffie said. “He’s a good guy and he works his socks off.”
Koffie will also be working his socks off as he pushes toward full fitness ahead of the Revolution’s upcoming two-game road trip to visit the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC.