FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps has collected a nice stable of central midfielders over the course of the season, but instead of selecting two players from that deep pool, he has preferred to name versatile winger Ryan Guy in that spot for six of the past seven games.
The primary reason for plumping for Guy ahead of Benny Feilhaber, Kelyn Rowe (preferred on the right), Juan Toja (lacking match fitness) or any of the other possibilities to partner Clyde Simms: The recent Guam national team call-up provides the necessary combination of ability and industry to push the rest of his teammates, according to Heaps.
“You see his work rate, his ability in there,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com. “He does a lot of little things. When a team is rolling and everyone is doing the little things, you look past the little things. When we hit the slide, we saw Ryan doing those little things. They're contagious.”
The effect hasn't taken hold on the results yet, though Heaps said that several players had improved their tenacity and work rate in recent matches. Heaps said he hopes more of his players will adopt Guy's template in order to boost the side's results.
“When you see Ryan Guy playing, I almost use it for guys to see what works,” Heaps said. “He's got ability, but he also brings it 150 percent every game. That's important. I like guys to see that. When we have more guys from 1-11 doing that, we'll be more successful.”
Feilhaber, Toja add ingenuity off the bench
It doesn't hurt to have players of the caliber of Feilhaber and Toja available to change the game in the second half, either. Both midfielders influenced the proceedings off the bench during the final 17 minutes of the Revs' 2-1 defeat at D.C. United last Saturday.
Revolution center back Stephen McCarthy said the arrival of Feilhaber and Toja and the corresponding switch to a 3-5-2 formation injected the side with energy.
“Man, it's a great feeling,” McCarthy said. “When I saw them both come out and we switched to a 3-5-2, I knew we're either going to score or we're going to get close to scoring and I gotta keep it tight back here. They're class players. I think the more Juan gets on the field, the more he's going to change the game.”
Tierney uncertain for New York's visit
Revolution left back Chris Tierney would like to contribute to a victory against the Red Bulls on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), but his status remains uncertain ahead of the I-95 affair.
Tierney sustained a left hamstring injury during practice last Friday. The knock kept him out of the squad for the defeat at RFK Stadium and restricted his practice activities early this week. Heaps said he will evaluate Tierney's health as the week progresses before deciding whether to name him in the squad against New York.
“It's day-by-day,” Heaps said. “He was unavailable for the game on Saturday, but he was with us on the trip because it happened on Friday before [we left]. We wanted to have him get treatment on the trip. Right now, it's day-to-day. We're just trying to assess where he is.”
Heaps has preferred Kevin Alston at left back for the past three matches and could select Alston in that spot once again if Tierney isn't fit enough to feature.