Players' desire for a starting role may yield a roster that is less prone to lapses and silly mistakes, and more focused on 90 solid minutes. And because of that competition, itís difficult to predict what Heapsí starting 11 will be come Saturday night.
ďItís the deepest team we've assembled in a long time,Ē general manager Mike Burns said. "Thereís an awful lot of competition for spots, which is great for coaches. Sometimes players would rather have a little more competition in every area of the field other than their own, but thatís our job, to make it as difficult as possible for them to get on the field.Ē
In goal, Matt Reis and Bobby Shuttleworth split time this preseason. Reis posted a shutout in the final exhibition match, a 2-0 win over New York. Shuttleworth struggled in the preseason, allowing eight goals.
Heaps made it clear last year that Shuttleworth was being groomed for the starting job; he made seven starts last season, mostly toward the end of the year. Reis looks like the first choice for Saturday seeing as he was in better form this preseason.
Heaps has a variety of versatile options in defense, none more intriguing than Andrew Farrell. The first overall pick in the 2013 MLS Superdraft looks ready to start at either central defense or right back. Kevin Alston will be pushed to establish himself at the latter position. Being an offensive right back during his playing days, Heaps has tried to instruct Alston on how to use his speed on both sides of the ball. Farrell will push Alston to get over the learning curve while also threatening the starting roles of defenders AJ Soares, Stephen McCarthy, Darrius Barnes, and Jose Goncalves.
The Revolution might have the most congested midfield in MLS. Lee Nguyen, Andy Dorman, and Kalifa Cisse will all likely start, but Heaps has plenty of options. Coming into his second season, Kelyn Rowe is able to play behind the forwards or on the right flank. Juan Toja should add a spark to the attack once he returns to full fitness. Clyde Simms, a staple last season in transition, will likely backup Cisse.
Though the Revolution signed forwards Chad Barrett and Matt Horth, the scoring onus will fall on the trio of Jerry Bengston, Saer Sene, and Diego Fagundez. Yet each player will be in flux in 2013. Bengston will likely start from Day 1, but he has international services this summer for Honduras in the Gold Cup and World Cup qualification. Sene is injured and will be out until at least April. Fagundez will continue to add flair to the attack but will need to manage the pressure to perform in his third professional year.
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