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Preseason Notebook: Delamea "Excelllent"

January 31, 2017 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - New England Revolution News Release

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. - After spending the first week of preseason camp battling each other on the training field, on Tuesday morning the New England Revolution finally got to kick someone else.The Revs opened their seven-game preseason schedule against expansion side Minnesota United, getting a 78th-minute equalizer from Kei Kamara - nodding home Donnie Smith's left-wing cross - to cancel out Eugene Starikov's first-half goal in a 1-1 draw.

Head coach Jay Heaps utilized entirely different lineups for each half, blending a mix of veterans, rookies and trialists into each group. On an individual basis the 45-minute stints were mostly about fitness, while tactically Heaps was most interested in building out a base for his team's defensive shape.

"The first phase right now is making sure that defensively we're sound," Heaps said. "We want to limit chances and make sure that we pressure when we can pressure, but when we can't, we're in a good, sound shape defensively."

"We've really been stressing the defensive part," said rookie forward Brian Wright, who played the first half and drew an early penalty only for Minnesota goalkeeper John Alvbage to deny Teal Bunbury. "I thought defensively, we were pretty organized."

Delamea "excellent" in his preseason debut with the Revs

Tuesday morning's game offered 25-year-old Slovenian center back Antonio Mlinar Delamea his first opportunity to see game action with the Revs, one week after he was officially signed.

Delamea started the match alongside Je-Vaughn Watson in central defense - positioned to the right of the Jamaican veteran - and although he's only had a handful of training sessions with his new club, Delamea looked strong in the tackle and comfortable building out of the back.

"I thought he was excellent," Heaps said. "I thought he was simple, I thought he communicated well, and every chance he had to defend, he did an excellent job."

Angoua studying Revs' system as he recovers from a minor injury

While one of the Revolution's new center back signings debuted on Tuesday, the other - 30-year-old Ivorian and Ligue 1 veteran Benjamin Angoua - watched from the sidelines as he recovers from a minor injury suffered in his last appearance in France.

Heaps said the Revs "want to make sure he's fully recovered" before throwing Angoua into the mix, and in the meantime he's learning New England's system by studying film.

"We're showing him how we play and the way we want to defend, so I think he's getting up to speed with that," Heaps said. "Getting to know the guys, I think that's also critical. Getting to know everyone in the locker room so he doesn't have to step on the field and be at 100 miles per hour; he can slowly get into that process."

Preseason slate continues on Friday morning against the New York Red Bulls

The Revs will return to the training field on Wednesday and Thursday at Grande Sports World, before continuing their preseason schedule on Friday morning against the New York Red Bulls. They'll close out their first Arizona trip next Tuesday in Tucson against Sporting Kansas City.

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