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Right Guy for the Revolution

Midfielder shows versatility on field

RYAN GUY Jack-of-all positions RYAN GUY Jack-of-all positions
By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / May 26, 2012
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FOXBOROUGH - Name a position Ryan Guy hasn’t played.

There are only two.

On paper, the 26-year-old Guy is a midfielder, but in his two years with the Revolution he’s been sort of a Swiss Army Knife, performing almost every task on the field.

So far this season, he’s put left midfield, right midfield, right back, forward, and center midfield on his résumé. The only spots he hasn’t played in his career are center back and goalkeeper.

But if push came to shove?

“I honestly wouldn’t hesitate to put him in goal if we needed him,’’ said forward Blake Brettschneider.

Last Saturday, with Clyde Simms unable to play against the Houston Dynamo because of an ankle injury, coach Jay Heaps needed Guy in the defensive midfield.

The task wasn’t exactly easy. Simms has been the team’s firefighter this season, running from one end of the field to the other, mostly on damage control.

Guy accepted the assignment on a couple of days’ notice.

“Basically, Jay came to me and said, ‘I’m thinking about putting you there, how do you feel? Would you be comfortable going there?’

“I just said, ‘Yes.’

“I thought that would be a good opportunity to get on the field, first of all. To play any position, really, is fine with me.’’

Thrown into the mix with Benny Feilhaber, Shalrie Joseph, and Lee Nguyen, Guy had to get his bearings. Of all the positions he’s played, he said it was the most difficult.

Guy estimated running “7 or 8 miles’’ filling Simms’s shoes in the 2-2 tie. With Simms likely to sit out again Saturday night at D.C. United, Guy will likely be asked to step in.

“A lot of us call it a thankless position,’’ Guy said. “You’re doing a lot of running. You’re doing a lot of covering for people, and it’s a position that doesn’t get noticed as much as a lot of other positions are concerned. It’s been the most difficult, but I think the most rewarding in a lot of ways.’’

On a team full of specialists, Guy has made versatility his specialty. Playing musical chairs wasn’t his intention, but eventually - after he noticed how many positions he was getting to play - Guy embraced it.

“I think it was probably once I was training at right and left back during the week a couple months ago, I was saying, ‘You know what, this is kind of different. This is kind of cool,’ ’’ Guy said. “And in a way, I think, whether it’s pride or what, I said I think I can play other positions, and it ended up happening.’’

In some ways, every day is like a crash course. When he’s on the back line, he’s trying to figure out how to use space. When he’s in the middle, he’s asking himself where the attackers want the ball. The advantage of being a natural winger is that he knows where he likes the ball, so when he’s in the middle he sends the ball where he’d like to receive it if he were on the wing.

“The way I look at it, it’s a little bit like a class where you have a test and you’re not quite sure what’s going to be on the test,’’ Guy said. “You just have to study everything and hope that when it comes to game day, you’ve studied the right things and have those right things in your head.’’

Guy won’t go so far as to say all the work has done wonders for his soccer IQ.

“But I’m definitely, I’d like to say, an able body,’’ he said.

But for the Revolution, a team that’s dealt with its share of injuries, he’s been Johnny on the spot.

“In a league like this where the season is just so long and you can see so many injuries in a short amount of time, having a guy like that that you know you can basically put him on the field and he’s going to be fine is invaluable,’’ Brettschneider said. “You can’t put a price tag on that.

“He really has done an incredible job at every position he’s played. Ryan just has an incredible work rate, and one of those incredible attitudes. He’s never going to back down from a challenge. We love him on this team and we definitely appreciate everything he’s done so far.’’

Nguyen said Guy’s athleticism makes it easier for him to bounce from position to position.

“He just works really hard for the team and he doesn’t really mind doing the dirty work,’’ said Nguyen. “Everybody is happy to have him on the team. You always want a player like that when a player goes down, he can fill that position and he’ll take care of the job.’’

Guy has jumped on the chance to be the team’s utility man, looking at each position as a job opening he can’t pass up.

“To come here and get the opportunity - which, that’s kind of what I see it as, an opportunity - to play different positions, use different parts of my skill set, and really be challenged, playing different parts of the field and using different attributes, has been really exciting for me,’’ Guy said. “I take it as a compliment from the coach that he feels confident putting me wherever he feels is necessary, and it’s definitely been an exciting experience so far.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @julianbenbow.

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