Exploring the Revolution's Defensive Midfield Options

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

We haven't gotten an officially update about the extent of Andy Dorman's injury, but Jay Heaps did say it was "significant." If Dorman can't go, who starts?

We don't know the extent of Andy Dorman's right knee injury, but head coach Jay Heaps said that it was "significant" in his post-game press conference. The loss of Dorman for any amount of time is noteworthy as the Welshman has logged 1214 minutes over the course of his 15 starts. The New England Revolution have a number of suitable options to play defensive midfield, so it will be interesting to see who Heaps turns to. Let's take a look at the candidates.

Scott Caldwell: Caldwell entered for Dorman in the 29th minute and played his longest shift since March 15th. Listed at 5'8, 150 pounds, Caldwell will never be the biggest guy on the field, but he does have smart positioning and visionary passing. The Akron product was the first-choice defensive midfielder for the bulk of last year, but he has largely been a bench option during his sophomore campaign. Dorman's unfortunate injury could open the door for a Caldwell resurgence.

A.J. Soares: When Dorman was forced to sit out against Real Salt Lake because of yellow card accumulation, Heaps turned to Soares to fill-in. Generally a center back, Soares did fine defensively in his more advanced role. His distribution, however, left something to be desired. After the game, Soares was praised by Heaps for his ball-winning and overall bite. With this in mind, Soares could make a return to the middle of the park.

Andrew Farrell: Whether he's playing in the center of defense or on the right, Farrell has been one of the most consistent performers for the Revs this season. It has long been prophesized that Farrell's future is in the center as either a defender or midfielder. Heaps experimented with using the versatile player as a defensive midfielder during preseason and it could be time to revisit that idea. Strong, speedy and smart, Farrell might be the best option as a Dorman stand-in.

Alec Sundly: Sundly has been an important contributor for the Rochester Rhinos this year as he has consistently earned minutes as a midfielder. In the Rhinos' most recent game, Sundly provided impressive service on free kicks while also grabbing his first professional goal. The loanee is clearly on the Revolution's radar as he played 90 minutes with the first-team during the US Open Cup. It might be too soon to ask Sundly to be a full-time MLS starter, but it should be noted that Bilal Duckett performed well when recalled to play against the Portland Timbers last year.

Shalrie Joseph: Joseph has been a regular on the injury report since re-signing with the Revolution, but his name does deserve mentioning. Joseph was one of the best defensive midfielders in the league during his prime. Now 36 years old, the Revolution legend would certainly jump at the opportunity to show fans that he can still contribute. But first, he needs to get healthy.

My take: I would start Farrell as the defensive midfielder. Although many Revolution players have been criticized for being streaky, Farrell has never been among this group. In my opinion, the more often Farrell can be on the ball, the better.

With Farrell farther up the field, I would have a back line of Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, Soares and Darrius Barnes. Barnes often doesn't get the credit he deserves and certainly doesn't get enough playing time. If Heaps wants more of an attacking presence on the right side, he could insert Kevin Alston.

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