FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It should come as no surprise that New England coach Jay Heaps turned to the versatile Ryan Guy to plug a hole in his lineup.
It might, however, come as a shock to see the 5-foot-8 midfielder slotted in at center back. Yet it happened in the 1-0 defeat at Philadelphia on Saturday night.
A peculiar set of circumstances prompted Heaps to make the switch after an hour at PPL Park. A.J. Soares limped off with a right leg injury. Heaps found himself short of defenders with Flo Lechner, Stephen McCarthy and Chris Tierney already unavailable. He could have pushed Clyde Simms into defense to fill the breach, but he wanted to keep Simms in his usual central midfield role.
That preference left Guy to slide into the middle from his temporary post at right back and take up his sixth position of the season.
Heaps said he trusted Guy to hold his own in that unusual spot because he possesses the aerial ability to match opposing forwards.
“There isn't a guy in midfield who can challenge Ryan in the air,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “He's got a high vertical leap. He can win pretty much anything defensively in the air.”
Guy shouldered the burden for missing the mark that led to Jack McInerney's winner after the match, but Heaps' contention mostly held up. The makeshift center back did what he could do to keep the Union out – it just wasn't enough for the Revs to claim a result on the day.
The entire experience left Guy to rue Soares' knock and underscore his commitment to serve the team in any capacity required.
“I can really only speak for myself, but I'm always prepared to do what is needed,” Guy said after the match. “We train every day. We know each other well enough. I know A.J. well enough to know how he plays. All I try to do is emulate when I go in there. Same at right back. I watch Flo and Kevin [Alston] and how they do it.
“I think the rest of the guys have a similar mindset. I thought everyone did well. Unfortunately, there was something of a spark missing.”