FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena has ruled Antonio Delamea out for the New England Revolution’s visit to Seattle Sounders FC this weekend, leaving a hole to be filled in the middle of the Revs’ backline.
Delamea, who has started six of the Revs’ last seven games in central defense and scored a pair of goals in that span, limped off in the late stages of last weekend’s 2-0 loss to Los Angeles FC. While the full extent of Delamea’s injury has yet to be revealed, Arena confirmed on Tuesday morning that he expects to be without the 28-year-old defender on Saturday in Seattle.
The two likeliest candidates to replace Delamea and partner Andrew Farrell in central defense at CenturyLink Field are Jalil Anibaba – who has started 14 games this season and spent the 2014 season with the Sounders – and Michael Mancienne, who returned to the 18 this past weekend for the first time since mid-May after missing 12 games.
“It was amazing,” Mancienne said of simply being back in the match-day squad. “It’s always good to be amongst your teammates, and for me, obviously I was very happy. I’ve worked hard to get to this point and get over this injury. It was good to be back involved.”
Mancienne made eight appearances through the season’s first two months, and admitted later that he was battling the pain of plantar fasciitis the entire time. The injury eventually sidelined him in mid-May, and after more than two months of recovery, the veteran center back is finally back to full health.
Although he hasn’t featured in a competitive match in more than three months, Mancienne did have the opportunity to play in a pair of recent reserve games to increase his fitness levels, going 75 minutes and 90 minutes the past two weekends.
“I feel great,” Mancienne said on Tuesday. “They’ve organized a couple of games, especially for the people who haven’t been playing so much, and that’s definitely helped boost my confidence, as well as my match fitness.”
“They’ve been important,” Arena said of the reserve matches for Mancienne. “He’s fit enough to play.”
Arena and his staff will determine who’ll start in central defense as the week progresses, but the Revs are confident that whoever fills Delamea’s shoes will be up to the task as New England aim to rebound from their first loss in almost three months and continue their playoff push through the final 10 games.
“We’ve got capable players,” said Mancienne. “Everyone is ready to go, and obviously it’s always good to have competition for places, and it’s certainly going to make us a better team.
“Toni will be a massive miss for us, but we have people to step in I’m sure who are more than capable.”