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Gustavo Bou returns from calf strain

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New England Revolution Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Revolution are slowly making their way back to full fitness with the return of Gustavo Bou to the starting XI.

Bou played 82 minutes in the 1-1 draw to Columbus on Saturday night. The striker was able to tally six shots and two key passes but only completed 78 percent of his passes and had four out of those six shots blocked. The striker was also almost gifted a goal in the first half but he was unable to convert all alone in fort of Eloy Room.

It wasn’t the best performance for the Designated Player, but it was a promising sight just to have him on the field. With the playoffs getting closer and closer, New England needs to get healthier.

Bruce Arena was asked about Bou’s performance in his first start since the middle of August, and the head coach and sporting director think there is more to come from 31-year-old.

“Gustavo [Bou] did fine tonight,” Arena said. “We need to get him back on the field playing regular minutes and continuing to fit in with the group.”

Arena and the coaching staff are now forced to conduct a balancing act. With New England controlling the Eastern Conference, the Revs can limit the minutes of key players like Carles Gil and Adam Buksa to ensure that they are fresh and healthy for the playoffs.

But New England also needs to make sure that its players are in form heading into the playoffs. Players such as Bou as well as Maciel and Ema Boateng need to get some playing time with the full squad before jumping into the most important games of the season. Tommy McNamara believed that players finding their sharpness might have played a role in the Revs not walking away with three points.

“Yeah, that might be part of it too, people coming back and being up for a little bit,” said McNamara. “The sharpness, it takes time to get back into the game and stuff. But it’s critical as we go into this final stretch of the season that we have everybody healthy, available, fit, and in game rhythm, as we try to close out this season in a really good way and prepare ourselves for the playoffs to make a run. So yeah, it’s very positive. I think we have a couple of injuries at the moment so hopefully they’re pretty minor and we get those guys back pretty quickly and then, yeah, we have a full strength roster that’s ready to go to see out this season in a really good way, in a good manner, and be very prepared for the playoffs.”

Bou will get another opportunity rather shortly to continue to build his fitness as New England takes on the Chicago Fire on Wednesday.