By Ryan Fleming
The New England Revolution started the season traveling with less than the allotted 18-man roster. Injuries to players Darrius Barnes, Shalrie Joseph and Edgaras Jankauskas troubled the team, but after Saturday night’s 1-1 tie to FC Dallas, “shorthanded” has a whole different meaning.
Saturday night’s referee, Jeff Gontarek, handed out 12 cards, seven of which went to the Revs. Kheli Dube and Joseph Niouky were shown red, both in the second half, which turned entertaining quickly.
“It sure was a strange one with all the cards being tossed around,” New England goalkeeper, Preston Burpo, said.
Revolution coach, Steve Nicol, will wait to hear from the MLS to see what players, if any are suspended.
New England (2-3-1, 7 pts.) play six more games in May including a exhibition game against Portuguese power, Benfica. Depending on what the MLS report that Nicol is handed regarding suspensions, Nicol will find himself searching for answers in players that have barely spent time on the field.
“The one thing that actually hurts us as much as anything, never mind having to play with nine men tonight, is the amount of games we have this month,” Nicol said. “We play Wednesday, we play Saturday. We’ve got 10 guys, nine guys, who have effectively played an extra 25 minutes and that’s going to affect them on Wednesday.
“We’re not only getting punished for tonight, but we’re getting punished on Wednesday and Saturday, as well. And that’s not good,” he continued.
In last Saturday’s game, rookie defender, Seth Sinovic, was taken off in the 82nd minute after an apparent injury, perhaps adding to New England’s woes. No word on his status yet.
Wednesday, the Revs take on Chivas USA in their last game of their three-game home stand before heading to Columbus on Saturday.
With the pact schedule, the question now arises: why would New England schedule a meaningless match with Benfica? Sure, it would bring in revenue and yes, it would give both teams, more-so the Revs, publicity. But if another player gets hurt, then the Revs will be in some serious trouble and before you know it, they could be in the cellar of the Eastern Conference looking up.
Just last week, New England placed long-time keeper, Matt Reis, on the disabled list. Joseph is out for an indefinite length of time, Emmanuel Osei sat out last Saturday with a right leg laceration and Chris Tierney didn’t dress due to a knee strain.
It is not known how long Osei and Tierney will be out, but when you add up the injuries, the possible suspensions and certain fatigue that will have an affect over the players, the Revs find themselves trying to keep out of a ditch early this season.
Ryan Fleming is an editor and a contributing writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.