FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England coach Jay Heaps has named José Gonçalves in every starting lineup he has fielded in MLS play this season, but he isn't sure yet whether that streak will continue in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night (9 pm ET; NBCSN).
Gonçalves, the lynchpin of the Revolution defense and an MLS Defender of the Year and Best XI candidate, sustained a right hamstring injury in the first five minutes of their 1-0 victory at Columbus on Sunday. He somehow gutted through the pain to help the Revs secure their first playoff berth since 2009, but he must now deal with the ramifications of that decision this week.
Heaps said he plans to check on Gonçalves on Thursday to assess his status and evaluate where he fits into the gameplan for the weekend.
“We don't know exactly where he is yet, but he is recovering well,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “He finished the game, which I thought was just an unbelievable effort on his part because he probably shouldn't have. We're going to see with the medical staff tomorrow where he is and where he's progressed.”
Revolution forward Diego Fagundez highlighted the importance of keeping everyone fresh for the start of the postseason journey after the rigorous regular season toil. He also noted Gonçalves serves as example to his teammates for his diligence in trying to recover from the knock incurred against the Crew.
“We're all working hard to do everything we can,” Fagundez said. “We're just trying to get ready for all of the games we can, like José. José just went down with a little muscle strain, but, of course, he's taking care of his body. We need him for this Saturday.”
If Gonçalves is unable to feature, then it will mark the first time all season the Revolution will take the field without him. The imposing center back has played every minute of every regular season match since his arrival on loan from FC Sion (Switerzland) during the offseason.
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Revolution defender A.J. Soares said he and his teammates will find a way to adjust if Gonçalves or fellow injury question marks Kevin Alston (hamstring) and Chris Tierney (ankle) are unable to feature against Sporting.
“We're not worried,” Soares said. “It's all about the system here. It's not about any individual player. Any player can step in and do a job. You saw [Alston] step in and do a good job for [Tierney] and then Darrius [Barnes] stepped in for Kevin and did an excellent job. There was no letdown with any of those players coming on.
"Every player that is available has played a lot of games in the pros, everybody is experienced. I'm not worried about who is on the field, necessarily. We're just focused on getting the game plan, understanding it and executing it. It's as simple as that.”