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Friedel has revitalized New England

New England Revolution
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Revs DP Xavier Kouassi to undergo ACL surgery

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Revolution head coach Jay Heaps wasn't initially concerned when he heard that new signing Xavier Kouassi had been carted off the field with an injury during a Swiss Super League match on Sunday. But it wasn't long before he learned the severity of the situation.

Even though Kouassi, who was signed to a pre-contract designated player deal last month, spoke to Heaps after the match to assure him that the injury wasn't a major one, Monday brought the sobering news that the 26-year-old midfielder had torn his ACL in his right knee.

"He wasn't that bothered [at first], he seemed like it was gonna be a [minor] knock," Heaps said following training on Wednesday. "But after he had the images, the doctors were telling him there was more damage than he initially thought."

Heaps confirmed that Kouassi is slated to undergo surgery in Switzerland on Tuesday. He is expected to miss 6-9 months of action, thus delaying his Revolution debut, which was originally slated for early July.

Heaps said the club will have a better idea of Kouassi's recovery time after the surgery, though the possibility exists that the Ivory Coast international may not see the pitch again this year.

According to Revolution rookie fullback Jordan McCrary, who underwent ACL surgery in 2014, a complete recovery is closer to the ninth-month benchmark.

"I started playing after seven and a half months, and I was really getting after it after eight months," McCrary said. "Then I was 100 percent ready to go."

While it remains to be seen whether Kouassi is able to aid the Revolution in 2016, Heaps confirmed that the terms of Kouassi's pre-contract are "set in stone," so club is bound to midfielder regardless of injury.

"We worked diligently on that, and this was obviously the risk," Heaps said. "He's still a player we feel like at 26, will recover well and make an impact at some point."

Even though the injury puts a major dent in the Revolution's summertime plans, Heaps is just as concerned about the impact it has on Kouassi, who spearheaded Sion's improbable run in the UEFA Europa League tournament.

"First and foremost, [my heart] goes out to him," Heaps said. "I've spoken to him, and I know how important the Europa League was to him. He helped get that team that far to advance to the knockout stages. They were really relying on him to carry them through the knockout stage."

Make no mistake, though: Heaps knows full well that the injury will have a major ripple effect on his squad, especially given that Kouassi was pegged to arrive at a point in the season at which the Revolution have historically struggled.

"We're upset [too]," Heaps sad, "because we wanted to have him make an impact sooner rather than later. It hurts because he was a player that we expected to help us."

For the time being, it'll be business as usual in Foxborough. The tandem of Scott Caldwell and Daigo Kobayashi was expected to shoulder the responsibilities in the defensive midfield while waiting for Kouassi's arrival, so in the short-term, nothing will change.

As far as the long view, re-signing midfielder Jermaine Jones remains a possibility, though Heaps was quick to shoot down any notion that Kouassi's injury will affect the ongoing negotiations with the currently-unsigned U.S. international.

"It's two separate things for us," Heaps said. "Either way, [Kouassi] will be joining us at some point and with that, it's like I've said before: there's dialogue [with Jones], and we'll just have to see how that plays out."

Once Kouassi is ready to finally suit up for the Revolution, Heaps is confident that the injury won't affect the midfielder's ability to make an impact.

"He'll rebound from this," Heaps said, "and hopefully, he'll be even stronger than before."

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