FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The race to assume Rajko Lekic's starting spot up front heated up this week as New England prepare for Sunday's visit to Chicago. (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online)
Kenny Mansally and Zack Schilawski look like the prime contenders to partner Milton Caraglio up top at Toyota Park, though Revolution coach Steve Nicol's final choice remains uncertain at this juncture.
Schilawski earned the nod off the bench when Lekic limped off shortly before halftime in Friday's 3-0 defeat at Portland. The second-year forward said he hoped to use this week to state his case to return to the starting XI for the first time since Aug. 13.
“I guess [Lekic] he's out, there's going to be an opportunity open,” Schilawski told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week. “Hopefully, I can take advantage of it and, if I do get my chance, I can help the team.”
Most of Schilawski's aid has come off the ball as he has notched just one goal in 21 appearances this season. The striker, who has started just 12 times this year after making 15 starts (and 25 appearances in total) during his five-goal rookie campaign, admits that he wants to play more often, but said he continues to work hard in training so he can seize upon his chance to feature when it arrives.
“It's frustrating,” Schilawski said. “Obviously, you want to play as much as you can. But if it's not in the cards, you just have to keep working hard so when you do get your chance, you'll be ready.”
Selection problems in central defense
Lekic's left ankle sprain creates one vacancy up front ahead of the Sunday matinee in Bridgeview, but Nicol also faces a pair of selection concerns in central defense as the match approaches.
Franco Coria (nasal fracture) and A.J. Soares (left adductor strain) present injury doubts after sustaining knocks against the Timbers.
Coria continued in his central defensive role after clashing heads with Kenny Cooper during the second half, but Nicol said he isn't sure whether the Argentine defender can just don a protective mask and feature against the Fire.
“It's one of those things,” Nicol said. “He's OK, but then once he gets a bang on it, [it hurts]. It's one of those do-you or don't-you [situations]. We'll see nearer the end of the week.”
Soares didn't train with his teammates on Wednesday as he attempted to recover from the adductor strain that forced him off during the second stanza. Nicol said he held out hope that Soares could resume his normal duties at the weekend.
With Coria and Soares uncertain to play against the Fire, Ryan Cochrane and Darrius Barnes remain on standby for potential roles in central defense.
Svärd links up with Revs
Danish midfielder Sebastian Svärd joined up with the Revolution this week for a training stint. A former Borussia Mönchengladbach and Brøndby midfielder, the 28-year-old received permission from Dutch side Roda JC, his current employers, to travel over to the States and slot into Nicol's squad for the week.