FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When Andy Dorman showed up for an under-the-radar training stint with New England recently, he wasn't the same player who left the club five years ago, according to Revolution coach Jay Heaps.
The 30-year-old midfielder returned carrying the experience of the five years he spent in England and Scotland with Crystal Palace and St. Mirren. He looked a little stronger and a little wiser. He stepped onto the field as a player capable of directing his teammates.
Those qualities – plus the knowledge Heaps gained from playing alongside Dorman from 2004-07 – prompted the Revs to sign Dorman on a free transfer on Thursday. The club exercised its right of first refusal to sign Dorman after tendering him a contract offer prior to his decision to join Scottish Premier League outfit St. Mirren at the end of the 2007 season.
WATCH: 2006 Dorman interview
“Every day, he shows up to work and puts out 100 percent energy,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com. “And that's contagious. I've seen him as a player. We were fortunate enough to get him back in here to spend some time with us for a week.
"He fit in with the guys. That was a really important step for me, to have him experience what it was like here with the new changes that we have made here in the past year and let him make his own decision. I'm so happy that he's coming back.”
Dorman will offer a different component to the Revolution midfield when he links up with the squad in January. The former Wales international operates more directly than most of the options currently at Heaps' disposal and supplies a steady stream of late runs into the penalty area from a central midfield position.
His success in MLS (17 goals and 18 assists in 112 matches) during his first spell in the league and his time with St. Mirren showed the type of impact he can have when he exhibits those abilities on a regular basis, according to Heaps.
WATCH: Dorman hailed by St. Mirren fans
“He's vertical,” Heaps said. “He doesn't wait around to get every pass with his back to the goal or play with 10-15 passes. He's trying to get behind the defense. We like that. I think Andy will outwork anybody. His soccer mind is very tactical. He can see the runs when they're on.”
Dorman's tactical awareness makes him an option as an attacking midfielder or as a right-sided operator capable of cutting inside. The specifics of his role are still to be determined, but Dorman said he hopes that he can use the experience he gained overseas to help the Revs push toward the playoffs next season.
“I spoke to Jay quite a lot over the past couple of months and he was a big reason I decided to come back,” Dorman said in a statement released by the team. “I was really impressed with everything he said about the team and his plans going forward.
"And from everything I saw last year the team isn't far away. A lot of the games last year were tight and hopefully next year we can come out on the right side of those games.”