FOXBOROUGH -- The Revolution have been in a position of strength, imposing their style on opponents in getting off to by far the fastest start to a season in team history. But the Revolution (6-0-3) have lost most of their edge for tonight's game against the Kansas City Wizards. Four New England starters are involved with World Cup qualifying and a fifth, Shalrie Joseph, is doubtful with a broken nose sustained in practice Thursday.
Joseph was hit by an elbow from teammate Jamie Holmes during a workout. Team doctor Bert Zarins confirmed Joseph's nose cartilage is damaged and an X-ray yesterday revealed a slight fracture on the bridge of the nose. Joseph, an All-Star defensive midfield candidate, played several matches with a broken nose last season, but this injury is considered more precarious.
Joe Franchino, who returned from a quadriceps strain to perform in a midfield playmaking role in a 0-0 tie with Colorado last Saturday, will likely perform in Joseph's spot. Franchino has often played as a defensive midfielder, but has been almost exclusively a left back since being named captain by coach Steve Nicol in 2002.
''Shalrie thinks he can play, but the problem is that [the break] is so close to the eye," Nicol said. ''We are losing a huge presence, obviously one of the team leaders. Fortunately, these are two guys [Franchino and Joseph] the rest of the team looks to get strength from. We know what [Franchino] is going to do -- he is the captain and a leader, as well. He has a good left [leg] and he can pass the ball, he is one of the guys who keeps us solid. Anything he gives us offensively is great, but we are looking to him to organize things in the middle of the park."
The Revolution's Clint Dempsey, Pat Noonan, and Steve Ralston will be with the United States national team for a game against Costa Rica in Salt Lake City starting at the same time as the Revolution-Kansas City match (7:30 p.m. EDT). And defender Avery John is in Port of Spain for Trinidad and Tobago's game against Panama. All four are expected to rejoin the Revolution for a road game against the Wizards next Saturday.
Marshall Leonard will move to left back and Ryan Latham (right wing) and Khano Smith (striker) are set to make their first MLS starts.
''We go from nothing to a whole barrel full of injuries," Nicol said. ''We have lost half a team. But these are decent players and we have said all along we have a decent squad. We will find out. Obviously, this is not a cakewalk and they will be all right once they settle down and get their second wind, if we get the crowd behind us."
The Revolution have yet to surrender a goal at Gillette Stadium in five games this season and have a 573-minute home shutout streak over two seasons, including playoffs. But the Revolution have struggled to score lately, converting four times in the last four home matches. Kansas City (4-2-4) is expected to play cautiously, a style that has helped the Wizards go unbeaten in six games dating to 1999 in Norfolk County.
''They don't take any chances," Nicol said of the Wizards. ''They don't risk anything. They are solid, they don't move, they keep things tight. If you don't make mistakes against them, you should be fine, but if you make mistakes, they jump on them. It will take some adjustment. We have to make sure that if we do lose the ball, we get back into position. We have to be solid and do exactly what they do."
Revolution central defender Michael Parkhurst will be matched against former Wake Forest University teammate Scott Sealy, a striker from Trinidad and Tobago. ''I practiced against [Sealy] every day," Parkhurst said. ''He plays like [former Revolution striker] Wolde Harris. We don't expect to go the whole season without giving up a goal [at home]. It's going to happen, but whether it's a mistake or a goal of the year, we will bounce back. This team has been down before this season and it has not affected us." . . . US women's national team striker Cindy Parlow is slated to appear at 4:15 p.m. today at Iron Rail Fields in Wenham as part of the Soccer Kicks for Cancer campaign.