FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – A fresh take on the tried-and-trusted forward partnership model paid dividends for New England against Seattle last weekend.
Managers have combined big, physical forwards with smaller, speedier partners for decades now, but the duo of Milton Caraglio and Diego Fagundez offers a modest twist on the typical calculus.
Fagundez supplies creativity and guile instead of blistering pace, while Caraglio adds cultured touches in possession to the typical target duties of holding the ball up and winning aerial battles.
“It’s amazing [playing with Caraglio],” Fagundez told MLSsoccer.com after Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Seattle. “The ball’s in the air and I know I’m not going to win [it], so I know I can count on [Caraglio] for a flick or a touch, so it really helps out. It’s really good.”
Caraglio's robust approach to the game creates room for the 16-year-old Home Grown player to operate in dangerous spaces, according to Revs boss Steve Nicol.
“Milton's a presence,” Nicol said. “He can hold the ball up and hold people off. It kind of opens up things for the wee man to get into holes.”
Reis sidelined for San Jose match
Veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis will miss Saturday's visit from San Jose after suffering a hamstring injury in the waning stages of the defeat to Seattle last weekend.
“No, he won't play Saturday,” Nicol confirmed when asked about Reis' status for the weekend. “Bobby [Shuttleworth] will play Saturday.”
The latest in a truncated series of disparate injuries for Reis this season – the 36-year-old missed two games with a left adductor strain and a further match with a left shoulder sprain in April – opens the door for Shuttleworth to make his fifth start of the season.
Shuttleworth may not start all that frequently, but he does know that he and his side will have to pay special care to limit the impact of San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski on Saturday.
Wondolowski has scored 12 goals out of the Earthquakes' 33 goals on the campaign (36 percent) and poses a threat in the attacking third whenever he carves out a slice of space to shoot.
Shuttleworth said the Revs must track Wondolowski, who’s currently tied for third in MLS scoring this season, throughout Saturday's match in order to limit his effectiveness.
“If you watch the highlights, you can see he's shooting from everywhere and scores a lot of goals,” Shuttleworth said. “He's getting on the end of everything. As a defensive unit, we have to stay tight. We always have to be communicating, knowing where he is at every second. We can't switch off for one minute.”