With second place in the Eastern Conference assured regardless of this weekend’s results, the New England Revolution face important lineup decisions. Who, if anyone, should the Revs rest?
Last Thursday, the Revs faced an injury scare when Andrew Farrell exited in the 50th minute after a hard tackle from Jermaine Taylor. The move turned out to be precautionary, but the Revs will certainly want to avoid a similar situation this weekend when they face Toronto FC. That having been said, momentum is critical with the playoffs looming.
Head coach Jay Heaps addressed the conundrum when he told the media, "We’re going to be smart about the weekend but at the same time you want to go into the playoffs on the right foot and I think that winning at home is really important."
The latest injury report lists Shalrie Joseph (L groin strain), Stephen McCarthy (L meniscus surgery) and Luis Soffner (R ankle sprain) as out and Teal Bunbury (L hamstring tightness) as questionable. With Bunbury being the only regular starter on the list, Heaps will have plenty of options.
The following lineup, which is more than capable of getting a result, presents a nice balance of starters and reserves:
My proposed defense gives Farrell some additional time to rest after last week’s physical duel against the Houston Dynamo. Farrell, who has already played 31 games, will be essential in the Revolution’s playoff run. Darrius Barnes, who has proven to be more than a reliable stand-in, is a solid option at right back while Chris Tierney deserves an opportunity to stake his claim to the left back spot before the playoffs begin.
Similarly, I would like to see Andy Dorman and Jermaine Jones play together before the big dance. Both players are box-to-box midfielders that are just as likely to provide a big tackle as they are to offer an awe-inspiring pass. Scott Caldwell has shown great growth this year, but I’d like to see what type of chemistry Dorman and Jones have.
Fagundez, who has only logged 29 minutes over the last four games, finds his way into my starting lineup with the hope that he finds his form before the Conference Semifinals. I’d like to see him play with consistent starters Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen. Rowe is just now getting into a rhythm and there’s no reason to disrupt that with a rest. Likewise, Nguyen is in a MVP race and I’d like to see him get at least 60 minutes as a final showcase of his ability.
Charlie Davies is my starting forward because a good scorer needs confidence. The local product came off the bench last week as Patrick Mullins got a rare start. Davies proved that he can be effective in limited minutes, but giving him a long shift is worthwhile ahead of the playoffs.
I will fully admit that guys like Nguyen, Jones and A.J. Soares deserve rest, and I can definitely see it happening with Caldwell, Daigo Kobayashi and Farrell waiting in the wings. However, I believe that a home win against Toronto would serve as an important momentum builder.