FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England striker Milton Caraglio is expected to make his full MLS debut against Chivas USA on Saturday night (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Revolution boss Steve Nicol said he plans to hand Caraglio his first start for the Revs against the Rojiblancos after the Argentine striker passed his medical examination on Wednesday and trained with his new teammates on Thursday and Friday.
“No, he's not [had a lot of matches lately], but we'll see what we get out of him,” Nicol told MLSsoccer.com after the Revs completed their training session Friday morning. “He's going to start the game and we'll go from there. We'll see what he's got in his tank. When he's done, we'll do something about it.”
Caraglio's match fitness remains uncertain because he spent the past year rehabilitating from a serious knee injury. The 22-year-old Designated Player hasn't played in a competitive match since last June, but he said he is prepared to play if Nicol decides to select him.
“I'm really confident,” Caraglio said through a translator. “I know my teammates will help me out. I want to offer as much as I can.”
The former Rosario Central striker should add plenty of sharpness in the final third once he settles into the team, but Revolution defender Chris Tierney said Caraglio can also contribute straight away with his technical qualities up top.
“He has trained with us for two days, so it's going to take him a little bit of time for him to get acclimated,” Tierney said. “There's obvious quality there — he's got a good left foot and a good touch. Hopefully, we'll see what he's like in a game situation and, hopefully, he'll help us out.”
New England will need some help up front with Rajko Lekic listed as doubtful with a right big toe fracture. Lekic scored in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City, but he spent Friday with the club's medical staff to determine the extent of his injury, according to Nicol.
While Lekic looks unlikely to feature and Franco Coria (left MCL sprain) and A.J. Soares (one-match suspension) will definitely miss out, the Revs hold out hope that Stephen McCarthy and Pat Phelan could feature at some stage.
Phelan participated in passing drills on Friday morning, but he skipped the scrimmage and remained on the injury list as questionable with a right hip flexor strain. McCarthy is also listed as questionable after separating his left shoulder against Sporting, though he trained fully on Friday and said he believed he could feature earlier in the week.
It will take a collective effort from every available player to to reverse the Revs' recent struggles against the Rojiblancos. Chivas USA have won the past four meetings between the two sides by a combined margin of 11-0, including a 3-0 victory at the Home Depot Center on April 30.
In order to reverse the recent trend, New England must employ the positives from their current run of form (three consecutive results on the road) and stop Chivas USA from controlling the match in possession by applying pressure in the proper spots to disrupt the visitors' rhythm.
“We need to keep our momentum,” Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph said earlier this week. “We've been doing great in terms of making more chances here and there and possessing the ball in better areas. Hopefully, we can take that into Chivas on Saturday and get that first, early goal to allow ourselves a little bit more time, space and composure to play.”