The New England Revolution are expecting big things from midfielder Xavier Kouassi, even if he isn’t ready for 90 minutes during week one.
Kouassi signed as a Designated Player on Feb. 1, 2016, though he wouldn’t be eligible to join the Revs until his contract with Swiss side FC Sion expired in the summer. Unfortunately, Kouassi suffered a knee injury just one week after the announcement, which further postponed his debut.
After a successful ACL surgery, Kouassi spent time in New England bonding with his teammates, learning the Revolution’s style, and getting familiar with the region. Through it all, Kouassi’s goal has been to be on the field for First Kick.
“The season’s going to start soon, so I’m preparing with the team,” Kouassi said via a translator during the Revs’ first practice. “I hope that as of the first match, I will be playing.”
Since then, Kouassi has participated in a number of preseason games, though he hasn’t gone longer than 45 minutes. Limiting Kouassi’s time is all part of a plan to prevent any chance of another injury.
“[When you are] coming back from a big injury and making sure that when you’re doing that, you’re going to have ups and downs within it,” Head coach Jay Heaps explained. “I thought he had a really good preseason in getting up to speed and getting his fitness back, but also getting his playing strength back.”
Although Kouassi doesn’t appear on the club’s most recent injury report, he only played 8 minutes in the preseason finale, a sign that he’s unlikely to start against the Colorado Rapids. That said, the team remains optimistic about his future.
“He’s coming along.” Heaps said. “We’ll see over the next three, four, five weeks to see really when he takes his full shape.”