Bruce Arena acknowledges the start to the season has been tricky for the New England Revolution as they dealt with injury issues, but he should have a full squad to choose from against Inter Miami.
The Revs face Inter on Saturday without any outstanding injuries, with Arena confirming all 27 players in the squad trained on Thursday.
That includes Jozy Altidore, even if Arena recognises the former Toronto FC forward may not be fully fit until June.
Altidore has been playing through his problems but will now have the time to recover fully, with New England back to full strength.
“Well, that’s a starting point,” Arena said. “We’ve had games this year where we weren’t able to dress nine reserves, which is permitted.
“So, now that we have a full roster, it’s going to give us more competition in training, guys can push each other.
“It’s going to make the job for the coaches in some ways easier, in some ways harder, because of the selection issues, but I think it’s a real positive that we have a team that’s now healthy.”
But Inter coach Phil Neville also cited “real competition for places” after a run of four straight wins in all competitions that began against the Revs earlier in April.
He confirmed the two teams would also play a second match on Sunday to give minutes to their squad players, showing the depth at their disposal.
“We’re gaining confidence,” Neville said, looking ahead to the MLS meeting. “Every game is another brick in the foundation.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
New England Revolution – Sebastian Lletget
Altidore was not the only new Revs signing discussed by Arena before this game, with the coach suggesting the recruits as a whole had been “a little bit up and down”. That perhaps does not apply to Lletget, who has been “solid”, but Arena still expects the midfielder – who he worked with at the LA Galaxy and the United States men’s national team – to be “more influential”.
Inter Miami – Leonardo Campana
There is only one man to watch at Inter right now, and it is the same man the Revs could not handle in their last meeting. Campana has six goals and two assists in all competitions this season, including goal involvements in each of his past four outings. The first of those included a hat-trick against New England.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The first meeting between New England and Miami saw the Revs win 5-0, equalling the largest margin of victory in club history. Miami have won the last two meetings, including a 3-2 victory on April 9, making New England one of three teams Miami have faced more than once and won more than 50 per cent of their matches against (Cincinnati, Toronto).
– New England’s 3-2 defeat to DC United on Saturday was their fifth loss of the season, equalling their total from all of last season. The Revs have already dropped as many points in eight matches this season (17) as they did in their first 22 matches in 2021.
– Inter Miami have won three straight MLS matches for the second time in club history, also doing so in September 2021. All three wins in both streaks came by one goal margins as 19 of their 22 MLS wins have been by a one-goal margin.
– Brandon Bye scored the opening goal of the match for New England on Saturday, assisted by Carles Gil. Gil has provided the primary assist on each of Bye’s past five MLS goals.
– Campana recorded a goal and an assist in Inter Miami’s win over Atlanta on Sunday. Campana has been involved in seven of Miami’s nine MLS goals this season, including each of the past six.