FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Saturday afternoon’s encounter with league-leading New York City FC presents a stern early-season test for the New England Revolution, who’ll regain the services of center backs Antonio Delamea and Claude Dielna for the clash at Gillette Stadium.
Both players were suspended for the Revolution’s home opener against the Colorado Rapids after being sent off in Philadelphia, and combined with last weekend’s bye, Delamea and Dielna are both eager to get back on the field after an extended layoff.
“I’m hungry for games – that’s definitely a fact,” said Delamea, who played just 24 minutes at Talen Energy Stadium before seeing red. “I’ll be pretty rested, thanks to that red card. I’m just hoping I’m going to get a chance to play, to prove myself in a game.”
“I’m excited to come back and play,” echoed Dielna, who wore the captain’s armband in the season opener until his 86th-minute ejection.
The duo’s return provides a boost for head coach Brad Friedel, who’ll benefit from having a full complement of defenders to choose from against New York City FC, a team that has scored multiple goals in each of its first three matches, all victories.
Friedel made it clear, however, that Delamea and Dielna aren’t guaranteed their spots in the lineup and they’ll need to earn their places on the training ground, particularly after Jalil Anibaba and Andrew Farrell anchored the backline to victory two weeks ago against the Rapids.
“I want to have at least two deep in every position, so we can have competition for places. I don’t want complacency to creep in at any position in the group,” Friedel said. “Having [Antonio] and Claude back will help that dramatically.
“Now it’s a battle for places, and we’ll see on Saturday who wins their place in the starting eleven.”