FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution are mulling a potentially pivotal lineup decision as they prepare to visit Rio Tinto Stadium for a daunting Independence Day duel with Real Salt Lake (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
As the team readied for their cross-country trip to Salt Lake City on Wednesday, coach Jay Heaps was forced to re-examine his game plan as the Revs try to get back on track against one of the Western Conference’s best clubs.
New England will have to deal with Utah's altitude and summer heat, but first and foremost a proper defensive-midfield replacement must be found for Andy Dorman, who will miss Friday night’s tilt thanks to a suspension for yellow-card accumulation.
“I think we have a couple of options there,” a cagey Heaps told the media. “We’ll look at what fits best for this game. It’s nice to have players to get opportunities.”
Scott Caldwell stands as the prime candidate for the role, having played 339 minutes at holding mid this season and having started 23 games there last year as a rookie.
“Every time Scott comes into the game, he does very well in terms of running, covering and distributing the ball,” Revs captain José Gonçalves told MLSsoccer.com “He’s a very important part of our team. The player who is going to step in, in the midfield, I’m more than sure he’s going to do a good job.”
The other major element weighing on Heaps' blueprint for this match is the possible return to Real Salt Lake of Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando, coming off of their World Cup journey with the US national team.
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Although Real Salt Lake coach Jeff Cassar spoke yesterday about the two USMNT players needing some time off, Heaps and company are preparing for their return.
“The US loss was a double hit, because they’ll return two players,” said Heaps. “They move the ball really well. They have a great diamond system that plays to their strengths.”
Both teams enter Friday night on three-game losing streaks, so the Revs can expect to face a team in a desperate state similar to their own.