FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — As New England Revolution players went through training Wednesday at a wind-swept Gillette Stadium, there was a notable player absent who was not named Carles Gil.
Goalkeeper Matt Turner missed the session though Revolution head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena made it sound like Turner’s absence was routine maintenance ahead of Saturday’s home opener versus Chicago Fire.
“He’s in getting some work,” Arena said of Turner. “We expect him to be at training [Thursday].”
Turner had a scary moment during the 2-1 season-opening loss at Montreal Impact. He clutched his knee after making a save in the 64th minute as it appeared his foot got caught in the turf at Stade Olympique. Arena was highly critical of the playing surface in a post-match comment.
As for Gil, the team’s captain and MLS Newcomer of the Year last season with 10 goals and 14 assists, he was at training but did not participate in an intrasquad scrimmage as he works his way back from a foot injury that severely limited his preseason preparation.
Dutch left back Alexander Büttner, who was signed using Targeted Allocation Money, and center back Antonio Mlinar Delamea join Gil among likely starters working their way back to fitness. The injuries have quickly tested the Revs’ depth, which Arena attempted to address this past offseason. Rookie MLS SuperDraft pick Henry Kessler started against Montreal and did not look out of place after playing extensively in the preseason.
KESSLER ADAPTING TO PRO SPEED
Speaking of Kessler, while he acquitted himself well through 90 minutes in his professional debut, the match did leave an indelible first impression upon him.
“First impression is that it’s quicker than college,” said Kessler, who played at Virginia. “It’s a step up from what I was used to, but I think I adapted well and caught on quickly, and my team has helped me out.”
Kessler said any mistakes he makes in defense have the chance to be swiftly punished because the attacking players in MLS are far superior to what he faced in the college ranks.
“Something that I noticed in the preseason was if you give a guy a half yard in the box, they score,” Kessler said. “That doesn’t always happen in college, so the attacking players [in MLS] are much better. That’s something I need to improve on and be aware of.”
Injuries notwithstanding, Arena said the match against the Fire would be “a better indicator” of where the team stands in many areas. He said the team needs to defend set pieces with more aplomb as it conceded a goal against the Impact from a corner kick. Finishing scoring chances was also top of mind for Arena.
“We had a couple of chances to get the second goal and failed to do that,” Arena said. “We’ve just got to be better over 90 minutes more consistent with our play.”
Tajon Buchanan headed a sure equalizer off the post in the 86th minute, and earlier Wilfried Zahibo had a potential go-ahead goal called back after video review.
ZAHIBO, FAGUNDEZ PLAY WELL
Zahibo, who entered the Impact match as a substitute at halftime, formed an effective pairing with Diego Fagundez in midfield. Arena said Zahibo brought “good distribution, won some tackles and obviously scored a goal that was called back, but he played very well.”
Fagundez, who played in a deeper-lying role, was sharp with his passing, and Arena added that “he’s really fit right now and he understands the position better. Overall, he’s been a plus for us.”