CHESTER, Pa. – New England midfielder Alec Purdie waited most of the season for the news he received prior to Saturday night's 1-0 defeat at Philadelphia.
He had four substitute appearances on the right flank to his name, but he wanted to start a league game during in his rookie season. He fought through a left ankle sprain that kept him out during July and August to press his claims in training over the last few weeks.
And then he received the call to assume the role on the left side of midfield against the Union.
“It feels great,” Purdie told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “I had a setback when I was getting games earlier in the year. I've been fighting for the past two or three months just to get back, get fit and start getting some games. I just wanted to help the team any way I can.”
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Purdie helps the team by using his pace to stretch defenses. He can play on either wing or up front, offering industry and width.
Revolution coach Jay Heaps admitted that the qualities Purdie honed at Indiana University didn't shine through at the start of the night. But they emerged as he and his teammates scraped their way out of a poor spell at the outset and obtained a foothold in the game.
“It took him a little while because we were under pressure, but, as the game went on, I think he got better,” Heaps said. “That's what you have to ask for from young guys when they get a chance to progress as the game goes on. I thought he adjusted well.”
He didn't have a choice. After an hour, Revolution defender A.J. Soares limped off and prompted a tactical reshuffle. Instead of seeing out his night on the flank, Purdie slipped into a right back role that he had previously manned during Reserve League action and a US Open Cup match at Harrisburg.
“My entire life, I've played up top as a forward and maybe a little bit out wide in midfield in college,” Purdie said. “When I came here, I was strictly a wide midfielder. Then, due to numbers and whatever, I'm not a natural defender by any means, but I found myself playing right back. I gave the best of what I had back there. I'm trying to work hard and get a place in the team. If right back was where it was going to be, that's where I was at.”
And that's where he'd like to stay. Although it won't be an easy task to secure a berth in the starting XI with more accomplished professionals ahead of him in the pecking order, Purdie's keen on making those lineup decisions as difficult as possible with an eye toward 2013.
“This was my first professional start today. I've been waiting a long time for it," Purdie said. "Unfortunately, the result didn't go the way we would have liked, obviously. Right now, we're pushing and treating every last game like it's a playoff game. We're trying to get better for next season.”
Kyle McCarthy covers the New England Revolution for MLSsoccer.com.