New England Revolution fans were elated on Saturday evening as their team thoroughly defeated Toronto FC 3-0 in a game that included the debut of marquee signing Jermaine Jones. The victory improved the Revs to 10-12-2, a record that puts them in third place in the Eastern Conference.
It wasn’t all good news, however, as Scott Caldwell received a yellow card in the 47th minute for a professional foul committed on Dominic Oduro. The card was Caldwell’s fifth of the season, which means that he will serve a one-game suspension on Wednesday night.
With Andy Dorman still on the mend and Jones working his way to full fitness, it will be interesting to see who head coach Jay Heaps plays as his defensive midfielder. Let’s take a closer look at the candidates.
Obviously a first eleven choice when healthy, Jones could earn the start on Wednesday and exit when he’s had enough. Jones quality is well-known and he can certainly operate as the team’s lone defensive midfielder. Furthermore, his grit and leadership would be valuable against defending champions Sporting KC.
The big question is, where is Jones in terms of fitness? The German-American played his first competitive minutes since July 1st on Saturday when he entered for Daigo Kobayashi in the 65th minute. Jones did fine against an uninspired Toronto team, but is he ready to play against one of the league’s best teams?
The Soares as defensive midfielder experiment has been tried twice before with mixed results. Against Real Salt Lake on July 4th, Soares was defensively sound but didn’t offer much in the way of distribution. On July 16th, Soares earned an early red card when he committed a studs up tackle on the LA Galaxy’s Juninho.
Soares has been a stalwart this season at center back and it might be in the team’s best interest to leave him there. With limited options, however, we could see Soares patrolling the midfield as a starter before making way for Jones in the second half.
We haven’t seen much of McCarthy this season as he has largely been relegated to Open Cup duty. His lone league start this season came on July 19th when he played 90 minutes in a 2-0 loss to FC Dallas. The lack of playing time might make it hard to remember how good McCarthy is. His best season came in 2012 when he made 28 appearances and was named the Revolution’s Best Defender.
Primarily used as a centerback in recent years, it may also be hard to remember that McCarthy was originally used as a defensive midfielder. During his rookie campaign in 2011, McCarthy made 18 starts in center of the field. With the defensive unit set and the team in need of a defensive midfielder, it might be time for McCarthy to return to his initial position.
After being drafted by the Revs in the second round of the 2014 SuperDraft, Sundly has spent most of the season on-loan with the Rochester Rhinos. The California native has been the most consistent loanee as he has been a regular in Bob Lilley’s starting eleven. Beyond being a sound defensive presence, Sundly has also contributed to the attack through free kicks and late runs. In fact, Sundly scored the game-winner against Harrisburg City Islanders this weekend.
Asking Sundly to start against Sporting KC might seem like a tall order, but it’s important to remember that Bilal Duckett was recalled last year to play in an away game against the Portland Timbers. Duckett performed well and helped the Revs earn a shutout. Sundly could provide the same type of spot duty on Wednesday night.