Giacomo Vrioni played his first minutes as a member of the New England Revolution on Saturday against the Columbus Crew, though it could be a few weeks until he’s fully up to speed.
Vrioni entered for Arnor Traustason in the 67th minute when the game was in a scoreless deadlock. He first paired with Jozy Altidore because head coach Bruce Arena believed that “having two strikers up there could help create a chance to maybe get us a goal and be in a position to win the game.”
When Altidore left in the 82nd minute, Vrioni was asked to play as a lone striker. Arena thought the newcomer “did a good job holding up balls and competing.
Overall, Arena gave Vrioni a positive review, especially since the striker only started training with the Revs on Tuesday.
“We didn’t expect to get a whole lot out of him,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “He did his job, but he is weeks away from being fully fit and to be able to do what he did tonight with just a couple days of training is pretty good.”
Vrioni finished the night with nine touches and a 71% pass accuracy (5/7). He didn’t manage a shot on goal but did provide a lot of energy when battling Josh Williams and Jonathan Mensah.
“He’s energetic,” Matt Polster said. “You could see within the match that he’s willing to battle up top. In MLS, there are big center backs and you’re going to have to grind in moments. It’s not going to be easy. He took that on tonight.”
Polster is enjoying his new teammates both on and off the field, though he believes it will take some time before Vrioni is fully acclimated to his new team and league.
“He’s super nice,” Polster remarked. “He’s a really nice guy and he wants to work hard for this team. I think once he understands the league, understands our team and our tendencies of certain players, I think he’ll jell really well with us.”