After seeing red following a sloppy challenge against the Union, Je-Vaughn Watson will not feature for the Revolution on Saturday. Who will Jay Heaps select in his place? We offer five solutions below.
Nick: Andrew Farrell
Though risky, the decision to push Andrew Farrell to right back feels too enticing not to address. Farrell has failed to pick up where he left off last season and, through three matches, has struggled in most phases of the game: 1v1 defending, marking on crosses and set pieces, defensive spacing and positioning. In all likelihood, he'll work out the kinks. But this is why Jay Heaps addressed defensive depth this offseason. Why not slide Sambinha into the center back spot and move Farrell out wide? It's a high-risk, high-reward proposition that's at least worth considering, assuming Sambinha is game fit.
Jake C.: Jordan McCrary
I've been touting him since draft day so now seems like a pretty good chance to see what he's got. It's a narrow pitch at Yankee Stadium and I think that plays into his style a little bit more as he can use his speed and the boundaries to limit what NYCFC can do on their left flank. McCrary will be more of a defense first player, so he might not be getting forward to support the offense as much but I'm okay with that on his debut. The Revs without Nguyen in the midfield should look for the counter more than they have this season, and if McCrary can create some turnovers and get the ball upfield, that would suit the Revs just fine.
Seth: Darrius Barnes
After a 3-0 thrashing by the Philadelphia Union, the Revs need a solid defensive performance in the worst way. With this in mind, Heaps should go with the experienced Darrius Barnes. Barnes won't offer much offensively but he will be able to keep up with the stars of NYCFC, including David Villa, Pirlo, and Tommy McNamara (Yes, you read that right). Barnes is a stay-at-home defender that has played in some high-pressure games. He's also developed chemistry with the rest of the backline.
Matty: Darrius Barnes (with a caveat)
With all due respect to Andrew Farrell and his athletic ability, you can't teach size. Darrius Barnes is a solid veteran defender, and at his size, would be a good center back fill in on Saturday. Slide Andrew Farrell out wide right, and lock things up defensively on a narrow field against a talented NYCFC side.
Steve: London Woodberry
Woodberry's meteoric rise as a top-level attacking fullback option in 2015 was matched only by his sudden and precipitous fall from grace in that same season. However, if ever he is going to see a match-up that favors his talents on the outside, it might be against NYC FC. Putting Woodberry outside over, say, Darrius Barnes is an obvious attacking maneuver, but one that balances the attack and creates another offensive fullback option besides Chris Tierney. Against NYC, a team not well-known for its defensive prowess that plays a sort of wing-less formation to capitalize on Yankee Stadium's narrow dimensions, Woodberry may have a lot of success getting up-field and pinging in crosses. He won't make the defense much worse than it's already been, and he gives the Revs a real shot at winning what might end up being a shootout away from home.