Best players play: New England Revolution's Jay Heaps offers diplomatic take on Jose Goncalves' absence

In his first season with the New England Revolution in 2013, defender Jose Gonçalves was the only player in the squad to log every minute of every game.

In the second game of the 2014 season, following a 4-0 blowout at the hands of the Houston Dynamo last week, the reigning MLS Defender of the Year wasn’t even in uniform.  

With no nagging injury as an obvious explanation, there was only speculation left on the table after head coach Jay Heaps took the high road when pressed about the absence of Gonçalves following the team’s 1-0 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.

“Our focus is to put the best players on the field to win this match,” Heaps said diplomatically in a phone interview with MLSsoccer.com. “We wanted to put the guys in a position to win the game, and that’s what we did.”  

Andrew Farrell
, who missed the season opener last week with a leg injury, was pressed to the inside in his first start of the season after playing much of his rookie season at right back.

“I think that Andrew, coming back from injury, to me played very well,” said Heaps. “Defensively I thought that we handled most of the plays, except for one, very well.”

Farrell, the top pick of the 2013 SuperDraft, played a solid 90 minutes at center back next to A.J. Soares, coming up with timely clearances that kept pressure off 'keeper Bobby Shuttleworth.

Coming over on loan from Swiss club FC Sion in January of 2013, Gonçalves’ purchase option was picked up by the Revolution last November after he helped the club return to the postseason for the first time since 2009, earning him a Best XI selection in the process.  

But by January the 28-year-old Portuguese back was publicly expressing his discontent with his contract, his desire to return to Europe and the feeling that he is expendable in New England.

Gonçalves played 90 minutes in the opener against Houston, which New England lost 4-0.