New England midfielder Shalrie Joseph surprisingly joined his teammates on the Gillette Stadium field on Friday morning.
Joseph has spent the past two weeks on the sidelines after aggravating a right hip flexor strain against Toronto FC on Apr. 10, but he participated in the Revs' final training session before Saturday night's date with Colorado.
The veteran Revolution midfielder worked his way through his paces and subsequently declared his displeasure with how the lingering injury reacted to the stress of practicing with his teammates.
“I gave it a try and I still don't like where it is,” Joseph said. “I'm going to go ice it and treat it and pray for a miracle for tomorrow.”
New England coach Steve Nicol expressed considerable doubts that his central midfield lynchpin would feature in the first game of the Revolution's season-long three-match homestand.
“He's joined in today for the first time in two weeks,” Nicol said. “That's all it is. We don't expect him to play.”
With Joseph probably absent for a second consecutive match and for the fourth time in five games, Nicol will likely continue with Joseph Niouky and Pat Phelan as the central midfield partnership. Niouky and Phelan could prove critical to the Revolution's goal of improving its work on the ball and in possession after last Saturday's 2-0 defeat at San Jose.
“Ultimately, we play passing football,” Revolution forward Kheli Dube. “As soon as we pass the ball, we know [we're going to get forward]. We need to get the ball and get forward. If we're not passing the ball, there's no way we're going to get chances.”
New England may need to throw additional bodies forward in order to generate and convert those opportunities. Colorado prefers a more cautious approach away from home, a gambit that may force the Revs to adjust appropriately by inserting more creativity into the midfield. Marko Perovic played up top against the Earthquakes, but could drop deeper if Steve Nicol decides his side needs him further back to facilitate possession. Perovic's return to a more natural role in midfield could open up a spot for Dube to feature after he dropped to the bench for the trip to the Bay Area.
“As players, you're ready for whatever comes up,” Dube said. “Last week, I was on the bench because there were different tactics. This week could be different. If I'm given a chance to start tomorrow, I'll just try to keep doing what I've been doing.”
Fellow forward Edgaras Jankauskas may hold only a distant chance of earning a starting berth, but he could see his first match action of the 2010 campaign after finally shaking off a right calf strain and participating fully in training this week.
“Clearly, he's missed a lot of time,” Nicol said. “He's not as fit as he would like to be, but he's in decent shape.”
Recovering midfielder Nico Colaluca (left knee sprain) should also make the squad, but several others will miss out. Long-term injury victims Matt Reis (left knee and shoulder surgeries) and Taylor Twellman (concussion) remain unavailable, while Zak Boggs (right knee and ankle sprains) and Mauricio Castro (right ankle pain) look set to miss out after being listed as doubtful for the contest.
New England will also have to cope without the services of central defender Emmanuel Osei for a second consecutive week. Osei withdrew from the Revolution starting XI shortly before the loss in San Jose with a right foot injury and didn't recover in time to return against the Rapids.
“He'd been carrying a foot injury,” Nicol said. “It was one of those [where it was] how long can you take the pain until it heals itself. When a guy like him tells you he's hurting, you know it's pretty severe.”