FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England coach Jay Heaps knew A.J. Soares was in pain when the rugged central defender had to come off after an hour in the 2-1 defeat at Philadelphia on Oct. 6.
Soares has developed a reputation for playing through injuries during his first two years in the league. He battled through an ankle knock for much of last season before undergoing surgery to correct the issue. He has faced a similar situation this year with the right knee injury that forced him out against the Union.
“It was painful,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com. “He's had a little bit of a lingering knee [issue]. It's one of those things where it flares up a little bit more. A.J.'s a tough kid. He's played through it for a majority of the season. The other night, he took a whack and it flared up. It was pretty painful.”
While the complaint may have prompted Soares' withdrawal on that night, it likely won't keep him from taking the field against Chicago in the home finale on Saturday.
“I think with A.J., we'll be a little bit more [proactive],” Heaps said. “We'll let him work at his own pace, but I think he's more apt to push through because he knows it's something he has had. He's had it looked at by the doctor. It's really about pain threshold. He's a tough kid, a really tough kid.”
Tierney returns to reinforce backline
Heaps will see his defensive options further increased by Chris Tierney's expected return from left hamstring and knee complaints. Tierney has missed the past three matches with those concerns, but Heaps told reporters on Thursday that he believes the left back will be fit enough to feature in the squad against the Fire after he returned to training this week.
“It just gives us a little bit more depth in defense right now,” Heaps said. “The last couple of weeks, we took some tough injuries with Flo [Lechner] and [Stephen McCarthy]. Those are tough.”
Bengtson back in the mix after Honduran success
Jerry Bengtson should also claim a place in the squad after playing a critical role in Honduras' 8-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Canada in San Pedro Sula on Tuesday. Bengtson bagged a hat trick and provided two assists as Honduras secured a berth in the CONCACAF Hexagonal in staggering fashion.
Bengtson returned to the Boston area after the match and trained with his teammates on Thursday morning. Barring a setback, he could make his fifth straight start for the Revs on Saturday night.
Heaps also told reporters on Thursday that Juan Toja could make the squad for the match if he continues to progress over the next couple of days. He is currently listed as questionable with left knee swelling.
Kabala named to US U-17 side
Revolution Academy midfielder Guy Kabala will feature in the Americans' 20-man squad for four matches in Argentina next week. He and his teammates will face Chile (Oct. 23) and Argentina or Panama (Oct. 25) in the Four Nations tournament and play Paraguay (Oct. 27) and Uruguay in friendlies (Oct. 21).
Kabala, 16, is currently a member of the US U-17 residency program at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.