FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Finding the right spot on the field for Benny Feilhaber isn't as easy as it sounds, but the Revolution don't seem to be concerned.
New England coach Steve Nicol deployed the US international midfielder up front with Rajko Lekic upon his return to the side in last Sunday's 2-1 defeat at Seattle, but he has also situated him in several spots throughout midfield in an attempt to spark the Revs to life.
Although Feilhaber hasn't found a permanent positional home as of yet, Nicol said his performances make it easy to plug him into the side wherever his services are needed.
“It's pretty easy,” Nicol told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday morning. “You can put him anywhere you want because he's a good player. We'd certainly would have liked him to get on the ball more [at Seattle]. Saying that, he did have a couple of chances as well. He made the first goal. Wherever you put him, you know he's going to contribute.”
Feilhaber's versatility also allows Nicol to tailor a specific game plan before the match and switch things up during the game if the situation requires it.
“It just means that you can use him,” Nicol said. “If we're dictated by a certain thing — what we're playing or who we're playing — we have some scope to change it. We changed it during the game [in Seattle]. We finished up with Kenny [Mansally] up top. We can slide Benny to the left and get him out there. We can go to three and then slide him back underneath the front two. It gives you options.”
Dabo back on the training field
The injured quartet of Ousmane Dabo (right quadriceps strain), Didier Domi (right Achilles tendonitis), Stephen McCarthy (left shoulder subluxation) and Chris Tierney (left foot contusion) all took part in the Revolution's first training session of the week on Wednesday morning.
All four players missed out against the Sounders, but Nicol said he would monitor their progress over the course of the week to see whether they could feature at Real Salt Lake on Monday.
Dabo, in particular, hopes to place what he has termed a “frustrating” bout with a nagging quadriceps complaint behind him. The French midfielder said he hasn't lost much in the way of fitness after suffering his latest setback in the Revolution's 2-1 defeat at New York on June 10. He also noted that he has focused on a quad-specific regimen in recent weeks to ensure that he will remain healthy during the second half of the campaign.
“I'm trying to reinforce it,” Dabo said. “I'm doing special workouts on my quad. Hopefully, I will get to [play soon].”
Reserve match fells McCarthy
McCarthy aggravated a lingering left shoulder injury last week after sliding in for a tackle during the early stages of the Revolution's 3-2 victory in a reserve match at Toronto FC.
“It was my first reserve game, 10 minutes in,” McCarthy said. “I had been cleared to not wear this brace — because it is so hot and it was a really hot day. I was like, 'This is my first time not wearing it, I'll be good.' I slid in for a tackle in the first 10 minutes, my arm got stuck behind me and it popped out.”
The knock forced McCarthy back into the brace — "It's not fun,” he contended — and prompted him to wisely ease himself back into action during training on Wednesday morning.
“He first did it a couple of months ago, and, obviously, it's a place where it's tough to not get hit on when you're falling over,” Nicol said. “In the Toronto reserve game, he fell on top of it. He's trained for the first time [on Wednesday morning]. He's been sensible, he's kept out of the way. We'll go from there.”