FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Some of New England’s walking wounded appear to be on their way back into the lineup. Defender A.J. Soares and midfielder Monsef Zerka could return from injury to boost the Revs ahead of Saturday night's match against Seattle (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Soares and Zerka both returned to the training field this week as they worked their way back into the squad. Soares missed Sunday's 3-2 defeat at Chicago with a left adductor strain, while Zerka also sat out that affair in an attempt to clear up a lingering concern with a left quadriceps strain.
If both players are fit enough to feature – and both are listed as probable for the match, according to Friday's injury report – against the Sounders, they could step straight back into the starting XI.
New England will need every edge they can find against a Seattle side jockeying for position in the Western Conference playoff race and juggling a crowded fixture list. Sounders boss Sigi Schmid will likely rotate his squad and hand some of his regulars the night off after a 2-2 draw vs. Comunicaciones in Guatemala in midweek CONCACAF Champions League play.
According to New England midfielder Benny Feilhaber, even if Schmid alters his starting XI ahead of the Oct. 4 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final against Chicago in Seattle, the Sounders will still present a formidable challenge for the Revs.
“Seattle's going to the playoffs,” Feilhaber told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week. “When teams are going to the playoffs, they're going to be gearing up for any one of these games. It's a long season. Towards the end, everybody needs the points.”
Three points in this particular fixture may not help the Revs in this campaign, but Feilhaber said his side must focus on improving its performances during the final month of the season.
“It's really more about us than anything else,” Feilhaber said. “We have to be able to do the things we have been able to do in small periods of time throughout the whole game and effectively take the mistakes out of our game. If we can do those things, then we're going to compete in the game. That's not to say we're going to win every game, but we'll compete in every game.”
That includes competition for spots. Franco Coria's one-match ban opens up a position for Soares in central defense, though Ryan Cochrane will also vie for a place after returning to the squad this week. Zerka could replace Ryan Guy on the right side of midfield, but he may end up patrolling the left flank after Guy scored twice against the Fire to make his case for a second consecutive start.
In addition to the duo returning from injury, Diego Fagundez could also press his claims for a first MLS start with Rajko Lekic still sidelined and Zack Schilawski ineffective against the Fire. Fagundez notched an assist and sparked the Revolution attack after entering the match at Toyota Park as a 71st-minute substitute.