While featuring a largely experimental lineup, the Revolution fell to the Houston Dynamo, 2-0, in the Desert Diamond Cup opener on Wednesday night. As in most preseason contests, the result only tells a fraction of the story.
Here are four takeaways to consider following the Revs’ loss in Tucson:
1. Xavier Kouassi’s fitness level remains unclear
Revolution fans exhaled when Kouassi made his highly-anticipated debut on Wednesday, but inhaled again when Heaps subbed him out in the 18th minute. While the Revolution head man pre-planned the substitution, he admitted Kouassi was “still, from a fitness standpoint, a little bit further away.”
Kouassi figures to earn more minutes over the weekend as he builds toward full fitness—after all, recovery from an ACL tear is no small feat—though Kouassi’s abbreviated performance casts doubt on his availability for the season opener on March 4.
Just chatted with Jay Heaps and #NERevs fans can breathe easy - the plan was always to give Xavier Kouassi a 15-minute runout tonight.— Jeff Lemieux (@jeff_lemieux) February 16, 2017
2. A long-term injury could prove devastating for Zachary Herivaux
After falling victim to a nasty challenge from Juan David Cabezas in the 58th minute, Herivaux limped off the field after just 13 minutes of action. Jay Heaps had little insight to offer regarding the injury, saying, “They’re just doing tests right now...Too early to tell.”
With defensive midfielder Xavier Kouassi still building toward full fitness, the door appeared open for Herivaux to earn valuable early-season minutes. A long-term injury would derail this opportunity, pushing back the development of a player who finally appears ready to contribute on the MLS stage.
3. Joshua Smith padded his case for making the final roster
Smith, a fourth-round SuperDraft pick out of San Francisco, entered the preseason with more hype than a typical late-round selection. He showed why on Wednesday, serving as a legitimate threat on set pieces while making a handful of heady defensive plays. Aside from an isolated defensive miscue (or two), Smith looked surprisingly polished for a fourth rounder playing in his first official preseason match.
4. Missing three core defenders, the Revs featured a largely unproven back line
With newly-acquired enter backs Antonio Mlinar Delamea and Benjamin Angoua finalizing their visas and veteran defender Je-Vaughn Watson away on international duty, Heaps allocated minutes to three defensive trialists: Joshua Smith (unsigned draft pick), Trevor Haberkorn (unsigned rookie) and Tyler Turner (out of contract). Houston gaffer Wilmer Cabrera, on the other hand, elected to keep most of his first unit intact throughout the second half. The result unsurprisingly played out in Cabrera’s favor.
Assuming Delamea and Angoua return for game action over the weekend, Heaps (and Revolution supporters) will finally have a chance to review the first-team defensive unit.