FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution will face a massive test of their depth on Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium, as the Revs could be without as many as four defenders for their meeting with the Philadelphia Union.
Jalil Anibaba and Brandon Bye will both be suspended for the trip down I-95 after being sent off in this past weekend’s 4-4 draw at Sporting Kansas City, while center backs Michael Mancienne and Antonio Delamea are both question marks as they recover from the injuries that sidelined them in KC.
Mancienne is currently dealing with plantar fasciitis, and while he played the full 90 minutes in the Revolution’s midweek loss to the Montreal Impact last Wednesday, he was noticeably feeling the effects of his injury throughout the late stages.
“Sometimes it just flares up to unbearable pain,” head coach Brad Friedel said of Mancienne’s ailment. “He tried to get through two games, but I’m sure if you watch the game, you can see him hobbling even a little bit against Montreal towards the end of the game.”
Delamea had been penciled in to replace Mancienne at center back in Kansas City, but the 27-year-old entered the mandatory concussion protocol after suffering a head injury in training last Friday, and the Revs will now be cautious with his return to the field.
“Toni had a little bit of a knee issue, and he came through that,” Friedel said. “Then he was unlucky and suffered a mild concussion last week in training.
“Hopefully Toni comes through all the tests and he can be available for the weekend, and Michael will be day-to-day. Again, hopefully he can come through and be available for the weekend, as well.”
While the Revs remain hopeful that both Mancienne and Delamea will recover in time for the trip to Philadelphia, they’re also making contingency plans in case of their absence. If that duo is unavailable, the Revs will have just three healthy, available defenders on the roster: Edgar Castillo, Andrew Farrell, and Gabriel Somi. Castillo and Somi are both left backs, compounding the situation.
In terms of options, the Revs have a few. Luis Caicedo started at right back when the Revs hosted Atlanta United FC three weeks ago, and DeJuan Jones saw a bit of time at right back in preseason. Wilfried Zahibo has the size and skillset to fill in at center back if necessary.
Ideally, of course, New England will have both Mancienne and Delamea available for Saturday night, but Friedel is preparing for any and all possibilities should the situation call for it.
“We’re really hoping Toni and Michael are going to be fit for the weekend,” Friedel said with a bit of a laugh. “No, we’ve got other players that can fill in. Listen, that’s what a squad is for.
“Sometimes you have to – and you will – come together at the times that you probably least likely think that you will. If we have to bit-piece a back four, we will do, but one thing’s for sure – whoever’s out on that field, they’re going to give 100 percent effort.”