New England Revolution manager Jay Heaps faces fitness issues ahead of opener

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Even with an extra week to prepare for the team's opener New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps will still be fretting about the fitness of some of his key players.

For one, he will have to compensate for the absent Chris Tierney, while he must also consider whether Kelyn Rowe is fit enough to feature ahead of Saturday's season opener at Chicago (7:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).

Tierney will miss the visit to Toyota Park as he continues his recovery from an ankle sprain suffered during the Revolution's 2-0 defeat to Seattle during the Desert Diamond Cup on Feb. 13. The versatile left-sided player made strides this week, but he said he is not quite ready to take the field.

“It’s tough to timeline it,” Tierney told Revolutionsoccer.net earlier this week. “Some days it reacts better than others, but I don’t think I’m more than a week or two away. I feel better and better every day, which is good. It’s getting stronger and I don’t think I’m too far off. It’s just getting those last little bits of movement and making sure I’m at 100 percent.” 

READ: Shuttleworth, Reis battle for Revs' No. 1 job for opening day

Rowe – like fellow midfielder Kalifa Cissé (right groin tendonitis) – is listed as questionable for the visit to Chicago. The second-year player is currently battling tendonitis in his left knee. He told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week that he hoped to battle through pain in a bid to earn a place in the starting XI against the Fire.

“It's easy to fight through something when that is at stake,” Rowe said. “With the first game coming through, obviously, the adrenaline is up. There are spots definitely at stake. We've got a couple of good guys in here that can play anywhere in the midfield.”