FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — While his first match may have lacked the panache of teammate Diego Fagundez's introduction to MLS, New England striker Milton Caraglio enjoyed a productive full debut in the Revolution's 3-2 defeat to Chivas USA on Saturday night.
Caraglio celebrated his recent arrival as New England's first Designated Player by partnering Zack Schilawski from the start and submitting 62 minutes as a linking and physical presence in the Revolution attack.
“This is a very difficult league to play in and I haven't been playing for about a year, but I connected well with my teammates,” Caraglio told MLSsoccer.com through a translator after the match. “In the next game, I'll work to get a better result and play well.”
The next step for Caraglio involves working his way back toward full match fitness. Although Caraglio featured from the start with Rajko Lekic (right great big toe fracture) ruled out through injury, he hardly kicked a ball in anger over the past year. Caraglio spent some time on the training field with former club Rosario Central during that period, but he did not play in a competitive match as he recovered from a serious knee injury.
Despite his lack of match practice, Caraglio said he didn't feel too worn down by his fairly rigorous stint on the field.
“I feel good,” Caraglio said. “I wasn't expecting to feel this well, but I really do feel well.”
Those feelings would no doubt grow if Caraglio could play an instrumental role in the Revolution attack during the second half of the season. He showed glimpses of his quality against Chivas USA — a few tidy touches here, a dash of neat build-up play there — as he took a crash course on Revs' style of play.
Caraglio should contribute even more as he gets his legs underneath him and works with his new teammates to make the best use of his abilities for the team's overall benefit, according to Revolution coach Steve Nicol.
“We want him to get up to speed,” Nicol said on Saturday night. “He can hold the ball up. You saw him holding the ball up tonight. Obviously, that extra yard he has in his brain, his legs aren't following him there yet, which means he's not getting away from people. Once he gets up to speed, you'll probably see that.”
Until Caraglio reaches that point, he plans to continue to work hard to grasp the details of his club and his new league ahead of the Revs' trip to Columbus on Saturday.
“There are still certain things that I need to learn about the style of play and this league, but I hope to get a better result next time,” Caraglio said.