Revs chock full of options for K.C. tilt
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - New England Revolution manager Steve Nicol has an embarrassment of riches for the return leg of a home-and-home series with the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
Only Taylor Twellman (right hamstring) and Felix Brillant (Canadian national team duty) are missing from Nicol's squad as the Revs strive to extend their unbeaten run to 11 matches since the start of the season.
The squad will be boosted by the return of U.S. internationals Clint Dempsey, Steve Ralston and Pat Noonan, while Trinidad & Tobago defender Avery John also returns to the side.
"We have guys that are coming back," said Revs defender Joe Franchino. "[Nicol] will have to make a decision as to who will play."
The three U.S. internationals will almost certainly feature, with Ralston the most likely to warrant a spot on the bench. The right midfielder assisted on the second goal and played the full 90 minutes in the USA's 3-0 victory against Panama in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday night.
John's position is tenuous with the return of captain Franchino in last week's match. Although short of match fitness, Franchino may get the nod at left back, especially with the travel logged by John in the past week with his national side.
Nicol believes that his charges, both internationals and otherwise, will gain from the return of the four from CONCACAF qualifying.
"It gives them a boost," said Nicol. "Pat and Clint played, and Ralston went 90 minutes. Avery did a lot of traveling. It's going to be tough to leave them out. We are at the point now where we have two for each position. Everyone wants a game."
Nicol believes his charges can relax as they begin a three-match road trip as they aim to cement their place atop the Eastern Conference standings.
"It stinks to go on the road," said Nicol. "Hopefully, we'll be able to relax and play."
Nicol will look to Noonan, deployed at left midfield by U.S. national team manager Bruce Arena on Wednesday night, to shoulder the goal-scoring burden after the loss of Twellman for 4-6 weeks with a hamstring strain.
"We have Pat back," said Nicol. "[Khano Smith] and Pat will be the front two. Any team will miss Taylor, but we'll see how to adjust."
Kyle McCarthy is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.