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Revolution won’t be at full strength

Joseph, Perovic will miss season opener

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / March 27, 2010

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The Revolution officially added two potential starters yesterday in announcing the signings of Marko Perovic and Khano Smith. But the Revolution will be shorthanded when they open their 15th MLS regular season against the Galaxy in Los Angeles tonight.

Midfielder Shalrie Joseph (hip flexor) will miss the game and Perovic is awaiting a work visa, though both could be available for next Saturday’s visit to D.C. United. The Revolution cleared roster space by waiving defender Gabriel Badilla.

“It is a big blow not having Shalrie,’’ coach Steve Nicol said. “Somebody will have to step in. To be honest, Shalrie would be starting for any team in the league. It has to be something pretty significant for him not to play, and this is something he can’t play with.’’

Nicol said the Revolution will not change their style despite the group’s lack of experience playing together and an average age of 24 for the starting field players. Six starters in a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Railhawks in the final preseason game last Saturday were not with the team when the Revolution opened last season.

“We want to keep it tight and when we get the ball try and play it,’’ Nicol said. “We’re not going to sit on the edge of the [penalty area] and defend like that. We’ll try to play the game in the other half of the field. When we don’t have the ball, be tight, and when we do have it, we want to pass it. We’ve been together eight weeks now and everyone knows each other well enough to produce on the day.’’

Four players could be making their Revolution debut: Senegalese midfielder Joseph Niouky Desire, who would start next to Pat Phelan in place of Joseph in midfield; goalkeeper Preston Burpo and defender Cory Gibbs, both acquired from Colorado in the offseason; and striker Zack Schilawski, who led the team in scoring with four goals in five preseason matches. Second-year defenders Kevin Alston and Darrius Barnes missed the Carolina game but could be available tonight. Kenny Mansally and Sainey Nyassi will be on the wings and Kheli Dube, who tied Joseph for the team scoring lead with eight goals last season, joins Schilawski at forward. Smith, a starting left wing for the Revolution in 2008, returned to the team after a stint with Lincoln City in England.

“We are a young team, but since the start of preseason until now we’ve improved,’’ Nicol said. “[Tonight] will tell us exactly how much we’ve improved and how much we have to improve. It will be a good lesson for everyone just how much they need to do.’’

The waiving of Badilla marks the end of an unproductive two-year stint in which he performed in only six games, missing the 2009 season with a back injury. The MLS paid a transfer fee of about $300,000 for Badilla, who played for Costa Rica in the 2006 World Cup.

“The biggest problem was that he didn’t play, so he didn’t want to be here,’’ Nicol said. “The guy can play football, no question about that. That was never in doubt. But the back injury knocked the stuffing out of him last year and he never got his head right to be here. Living in a foreign country, away from home and not playing. He just wanted to be home, to be honest.’’

Perovic played in two games as the Revolution went 3-1-1 in the preseason, then returned to Switzerland to finalize a transfer from FC Basel . . . David Beckham (Achilles’ tendon surgery), injured while playing on loan for AC Milan, was on crutches as he attended a Galaxy practice this week.

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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