FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Chalk it up as a good problem to have for New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps, despite what he called his “toughest decision of the short season so far.”
The return of captain José Gonçalves left Heaps with having to choose between keeping together a defense that had allowed just five goals the five games they played without him, or get the reigning MLS Defensive Player of the Year in the lineup right away.
Ultimately, Gonçalves propensity to lead made Heaps’ decision easier.
“Who do you take out? It’s not an easy one,” Heaps told reporters following Saturday’s 2-1 win over D.C. United. “I thought tonight we needed a little uptick from some senior leadership because that’s what he does so well.
"If you ever worried about complacency, go in a locker room 10 minutes before a game and I’ll tell you right now, José is going to eliminate any complacency in anyone.”
Gonçalves did not show on complacency in his return as he grinded out a full 90 minutes in helping the Revs pick up their fifth straight win.
For the captain, it was all a matter of patience in coming back from a right quad strain and he knew his training had paid off and that he was ready to put in a complete effort on Saturday night.
“I worked hard to be prepared to play a full 90 minutes,” Gonçalves told reporters. “I knew that if I stepped on the field, I cannot be there for 20 or 50 minutes. I felt that I would be able to play 90 minutes and that was a decision from the coach and the staff.”
Gonçalves showed no signs of the injury either, as he moved fluidly across the pitch and was his usual self, strangling the center of the box and helping to limit Eddie Johnson’s chances.
His presence was evident in his return and he ensured that his coach would not regret the decision to get him back into the mix.
“As the captain of the club, I want to give [Heaps] full confidence that I will be on the field and lead the team from any position,” said Gonçalves. “Through the good and through the worst.”