Two of the New England Revolution’s main attacking pieces are inching closer to full fitness.
Forwards Juan Agudelo and Krisztian Nemeth made their preseason debuts for the Revolution on Wednesday, playing 31 minutes in the club’s 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City in Tucson.
Minor injuries have kept both players away from a competitive setting in recent weeks, though the duo has continued nearly full participation in most training drills and exercises. Both players are expected to factor even more in the Revolution’s final preseason game, which is against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
“First of all, they look fit and their movements were all very good,” Revolution coach Brad Friedel said Wednesday of his two strikers. “I don’t think we’re going to have any – well, knock on wood – any recurrence of the injuries, but we were very, very pleased with seeing them get 30 minutes, come out unscathed and with their overall effort in the game.”
Nemeth has been recovering from a calf injury for the past 10 days, but appears to be regaining his sharpness in the attacking third.
The Hungarian appeared to score the Revolution’s third goal in Wednesday afternoon’s friendly against Sporting when he rose to head a 69th minute freekick by Diego Fagundez into the back of the net. However, referee Allen Chapman called the apparent goal offside after consulting VAR.
“It just feels good to be back to the team,” Nemeth said. “We worked hard when I was injured. I was waiting for this moment just coming back to play some minutes. When you miss one week, you need a couple days just coming back. But I think this week we have a game Saturday, so again I’m going to have some minutes. For next week, I’m going to fly.”
Meanwhile, Wednesday marked Agudelo’s first competitive game since making a 22-minute substitute appearance with the U.S. national team in a 0-0 draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina on January 28.
For Agudelo, who scored eight goals in 28 appearances for the Revolution last season, earning playing time was a much-needed step forward on his path to full fitness.
That said, he also believes his teammates have more work to do in preparation for their fast-approaching March 3 season opener at Philadelphia.
“A lot of work, a lot of combinations with the players to see what can work out and see what kind of lineup we can put up against Philly and come up with three points,” responded Agudelo when asked about what the Revolution still need to evaluate before the regular season begins. “This last game on Saturday is going to be important to see how we can fly into Philly and get three points.”