FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England coach Jay Heaps thought his front line needed a few qualities in particular when he decided to hand Blake Brettschneider a place in the starting XI at Chicago after a week out of the squad.
“[He has] energy, pressure, athleticism, different things that we wanted to test the backline of Chicago,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week.
Brettschneider said he tries to use those traits to create problems for opposing defenses every time he steps on the field. He played a part in Fernando Cárdenas' early equalizer by throwing himself into the mix at the near post and toiled earnestly for his 57 minutes against the Fire.
“I liked to be relied on for something like that,” Brettschneider said. “I think it's definitely something that I bring to the table. Whenever he needs that and this team needs that, I'll be ready to do it.”
It remains somewhat uncertain whether Brettschneider will retain his place in the side for Saturday's visit to Columbus. Jerry Bengtson, Dimitry Imbongo and Saër Sène will vie with the 23-year-old ex-D.C. United man for a spot up front.
The competition for places isn't anything new to Brettschneider at this stage of the season, but he said he'll keep himself ready if he is called upon to make a second straight start.
“I think that's why training is so important,” Brettschneider said. “You try to make everything as realistic in training as you can and you try to be as sharp as you can in training. But there's nothing quite like a game. Unfortunately, it's fairly hard to replicate in a practice. It's just trying to make sure that you're on top of everything and ready to go when the time comes.”
Bengtson finally sticks around
Those preparations on the training field will certainly help Bengtson settle in with his Revolution teammates after a whirlwind couple of months. Heaps said the prospect of having Bengtson in one spot for an entire week should help him prepare for the visit to Crew Stadium.
“It's good,” Heaps said. “Relationships are starting to form. There are stronger ties. Guys are communicating. The more we have Jerry, the better we will be as a team.”
Nguyen on the road to recovery
Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen may have limped off at halftime against Chicago with a left ankle sprain, but he could recover in time to feature against the Crew, according to Heaps.
“He's doing well,” Heaps said on Tuesday. “He's day-to-day right now, but he's doing better than he was on Saturday. It's just a little bit of a knock and we had to be smart.”