New England’s latest hurdle will be to overcome the devastating news it received from the defender earlier this week.
The Revolution will play their first contest since Alston took an indefinite leave of absence for leukemia treatment when they visit the Seattle Sounders in a matchup of struggling teams Saturday.
New England (1-2-1) has been shut out in each of its last three games after falling 1-0 to FC Dallas on March 30, with Alston missing on a prime scoring chance in the 69th minute.
The struggles, though, have been nothing compared to hearing Alston, an All-Star in 2010, inform the team Monday he has been diagnosed with a rare but treatable form of leukemia, keeping him out of action for the foreseeable future.
“That was the quietest the room has been the entire time I’ve been here,” coach Jay Heaps told the team’s official website. “But the guys have to use that and say, ‘Look, Kevin can’t play, but now we go on the field and (play) the game we love. Kevin would be out here if he could, but he just can’t right now, so let’s go out and get some wins and get Kevin back here as soon as we can.’”
“It’s heartbreaking what he’s going through, but at the same time, we know that he would want to be there with us,” Reis said. “When it’s getting tough and when things aren’t going our way, we just have to think of him and all that he’s going through and hopefully that’ll give us a little boost to get us where we need to be.”
They may want to direct that motivation toward an offense in the midst of a 298-minute scoreless drought. New England’s lone goal came from Jerry Bengtson in the 62nd minute of a 1-0 win over Chicago in the season opener March 9.
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid believes the Revolution will play inspired soccer after Alston’s announcement.
“It’ll probably help serve as some motivation for them because when you lose a guy to something like that you realize that life is more than just a game,” Schmid said. “I’m sure they’d like to dedicate (wins) to him, but that’s their issue right now. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kevin, but we have our own concerns in regards to soccer.”
The Sounders (0-3-1) are the only MLS team without a victory after falling 2-1 to Real Salt Lake on March 30. They also were knocked from CONCACAF Champions League play after a 1-all draw Tuesday with Santos Laguna in Mexico City.
“The objective has been to play better soccer and win games, whether it’s Champions League or (MLS),” Schmid said. “Now we’re limited to (MLS) games and we’ve got to carry the effort that we put forth into the game on Tuesday into the game Saturday.”
Seattle has gone 2-0-1 in the last three meetings with New England, as Eddie Johnson scored twice for the Sounders in a 2-all draw in the last matchup June 30.