New England Revolution say acquisition of Andre Akpan fills need for "true No. 9"

Andre Akpan, New York Red Bulls

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A conversation among coaches Jay Heaps and Mike Petke following their teams’ match on Aug. 2 set the wheels in motion for the trade announced Tuesday between the New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls.

The coaches got to talking on Saer Sene, and Revolution general manager Mike Burns followed up with Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh and technical director Ricardo Campos to gauge their interest in the French forward.

“Often times trades don’t materialize, but this one did,” Burns told MLSsoccer.com. “It was kind of mutual in the fact that both teams were talking about Saer a little bit. Then Andre’s name became involved and the allocation portion of it as well. It made sense for us and for New York as well.”

New England received forward Andre Akpan and allocation money in return and are planning to put both of those acquisitions to good use. The 26-year-old Akpan, now in his fifth season, saw limited time with New York this year, appearing in only five matches, yet the Revs feel he will be a viable option for the club.  

“He’s a big strong player, fast, can hold the ball,” New England’s Heaps said on Wednesday. “He’s going to come in and fight right away.”

Added Burns: “We’ve been looking to add more of a true No. 9. Andre clearly gives us more depth at that No. 9 position. He fit that bill for us.”

Akpan, familiar with the region after setting scoring marks on the pitch at Harvard, has also enjoyed a relatively healthy, albeit limited career in MLS, playing three full seasons in Colorado before being traded to New York a year ago.

“I think we’re adding, first and foremost, a healthy attacking player in Andre,” said Heaps. “You get to a point where we wanted to shake things up a little bit and make sure that we continue to get better going forward.”

As for the allocation money, the Revolution will look to use it on the free agent market as they try to shore up the roster prior to it being locked down on Sept. 15.

“We feel like we’re in a decent position there,” said Burns. "This hasn’t tied our hands at all to make additional moves, which we’re still going to try to do. Obviously it’s a little more challenging now that we’re outside of Aug. 6 and the close of the window. We made this move with that in mind.”

Those funds could also come in very handy if the team puts in an all-out push for USMNT star Jermaine Jones, in whom the club expressed interest a week ago.