MONTREAL – Shalrie Joseph's early-morning bout with back stiffness on Wednesday placed New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps in a bind.
Heaps hoped his captain would feature at some stage in the team's 2-1 defeat away to the Montreal Impact, but he also didn't want to push Joseph too hard to do so given the veteran midfielder's recent knee issues, his 84-minute effort against Toronto FC last weekend and the prospect of yet another game looming at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
In the end, Heaps decided Joseph's fitness represented too great of a risk to include him in the squad and summoned Sainey Nyassi from Boston to take his place on the bench, eventually handing the Gambian winger his first appearance of the season.
“We brought him on the trip and, unfortunately, he had a little stiffness in his back,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday night. “It's one of those where you're nervous. I think he could have gone, but I think we were a little bit nervous about jamming it. We didn't want him to play that many minutes last week [against Toronto FC]. We want to be smart with guys and he's coming along.”
Taking the Lead: Shalrie Joseph
That bit of prudence forced Heaps' hand in the second half, as well, when he withdrew Clyde Simms at the hour mark. Joseph's injury forced Heaps to get creative in plugging the gap.
“After [Joseph] played a lot of minutes on Saturday, we wanted to get him on the pitch, maybe in the game when it was 1-1,” Heaps said. “It hurts us not getting him on the field for Clyde in that 60th minute. We had to put Blake [Brettschneider] in and put Saer [Sene] wide. We knocked on the door a couple of times, but we didn't finish our chances.”
McCarthy on the mend
While Joseph checked out the game from the sidelines at Stade Saputo, Revolution teammate Stephen McCarthy viewed the proceedings from a watch party with supporters at CBS Scene in Foxborough, Mass.
McCarthy failed to make the trip to Quebec after grappling with concussion-like symptoms brought on by a clash with TFC striker Ryan Johnson on Saturday. His status could change ahead of Saturday's visit to Livestrong Sporting Park, according to Heaps.
“Hopefully, he's going to be cleared pretty soon, within the next day,” Heaps said.
Reis weighs his layoff
Veteran goalkeeper Matt Reis received a recall to the starting XI against the Impact after Bobby Shuttleworth earned the nod in the past two matches.
Reis said he appreciated the opportunity to reclaim his usual spot between the posts after reflecting upon the reasons for his brief absence from the first team.
“I try and work hard every week,” Reis said. “I don't take anything for granted. It's a chance, whenever you're not playing, to take a step back, look, see and evaluate. Hopefully, I've done that and I can move on and be ready for the rest of the year.”