FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Change swirled around New England midfielders Scott Caldwell and Kelyn Rowe (above) this week as they prepared for the Revolution's home finale against Columbus on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live).
The alterations did not come of their own accord. Saër Sène dropped out of the picture after undergoing surgery on his left ankle. Lee Nguyen participated in practice as he prepared to serve a one-match ban for caution accumulation against the Crew. And the two holdovers for the Revolution in central midfield just tried to keep things ticking along as usual.
Caldwell and Rowe established their fruitful working relationship long ago. Caldwell sits deep and sweeps up in front of the back four. Rowe traipses around the attacking third in search of opportunities in front of goal in tandem with Nguyen.
The operating principles change a bit with Nguyen ruled out through suspension, though. In Nguyen's absence, Rowe said he will turn to Caldwell to help him through the adjustments required to pull apart the Crew's defensive shape.
“Scottie will be there to help me out a little bit,” Rowe told MLSsoccer.com. “We've been playing together for the past 20 games now. That'll be good. I can also link up with Diego [Fagundez], Juan [Agudelo] and whoever is on the other side. For me, I have other players around me who I can link up with just as much.”
Caldwell and Rowe must pick up the revamped rhythms quickly. Columbus presses a bit higher up the field now than it once did. Any slips in possession can lead to swift punishment. The need to establish the same cadence in the wake of those changes isn't lost on Caldwell.
“It's definitely important, but we've trained together for the whole year,” Caldwell said. “Everyone knows each other, their strengths and what they like. I think we'll do a fine job. It'll be a smooth transition.”
- Get more Revolution news and updates at RevolutionSoccer.net
Revolution coach Jay Heaps will ponder exactly how he wants to facilitate the switches ahead of this must-win match at Gillette Stadium. He tapped Kevin Alston to replace the injured Sène in the 1-0 victory at Montreal on Saturday. Alston's arrival pushed Chris Tierney from his usual role at left back into a more advance role in midfield.
If that arrangement holds and prevents Chad Barrett (QUESTIONABLE – abdominal strain) and Dimitry Imbongo (QUESTIONABLE – right hamstring irritation) from featuring at the outset, then the Revs would need to find a direct replacement for Nguyen in central midfield.
Andy Dorman presents the most natural option in a like-for-like swap after returning from a one-match ban with Juan Toja (OUT – lower back irritation) unavailable, though Clyde Simms could press his claims for a first start since July after appearing off the bench against the Impact.