While the current 12-day trip to North Carolina is vital to the players who are already part of the Revolution’s roster as they prepare for the season opener in just two weeks, a good deal of focus must also be paid to the three players currently on trial with the club – Marko Perovic, Gareth Williams and Andres Raad. As the Revs continue their search for help on the attacking end of the field, one (or all) of these players could end up being a big piece of that puzzle. We’ll know more at the conclusion of their week-long stay with the Revolution, but today we got our first real look at the three trialists in action.
Here’s some notes on each of them, plus brief video clips of all three …
Marko Perovic – The 26-year-old Serbian landed in North Carolina late yesterday afternoon and made his first appearance at last night’s team meal. He chatted with the players at his table during dinner, which revealed one important fact from my perspective – he speaks English.
There was slight confusion when he jogged out onto the training field this morning wearing #17, as it was fellow trialist Gareth Williams who wore that number yesterday. Turns out, Williams will now wear #2 for the week, while Perovic will wear #17.
My very first impression - which was shared with those around me – was that he’s actually a bit bigger than I had expected. Somewhere around six-foot or six-foot-one, he’s sturdy and has quite a bit of strength on the ball.
From a playing standpoint, he appears to be pretty versatile. During the small-sided games he spent time playing both out on the left wing and in the middle, and seemed comfortable enough in both spots. And while many attacking players are either setup men or finishers, Perovic seems to be somewhere in between – first impression was that he likes to pass just as much as he likes to shoot, and he’s unafraid to do either.
He provided what was perhaps the highlight goal of today’s session in one of the small-sided games. Driving down the right wing, he quickly cut the ball back to the inside with his right foot before using his left to curl a low shot off the far post and into the net.
Gareth Williams – While Perovic took many opportunities to push high into the attack, Williams preferred to stay a bit deeper and kept the game in front himself. The Scottish midfielder played centrally during each small-sided game and was often searching for the killer long ball over the top or through the defense on the ground.
He also showed a propensity for possession, as he clearly preferred to get the ball and pass the ball. As soon as he won the ball or had the ball played to his feet, his head was up and he was looking for an open teammate. In other words, he likes to keep the ball moving and didn’t seem like the type to fool around trying to dribble through a maze of defenders.
During crossing and finishing at the end of the session, he put his height to good use, getting on the end of a few crosses with glancing headers.
Andres Raad – While both Perovic and Williams are at least six feet tall, Raad is only about five-foot-eight and plays a different style game.
First of all, Raad was used in a higher role during the small-sided games – not necessarily an out-and-out forward because he often tracked back into defense, but he seemed to be deployed in a role a bit closer to the box than his fellow trialists. He showed some quick footwork with the ball at his feet and was able to work himself out of tight spaces a few times.
Using plenty of one-touch passing, Raad often came back toward the ball to give the midfielders an option, played a one-touch pass and then spun off toward goal hoping for a return ball. While he doesn’t having lightning speed, he seems to enjoy playing “quick.”
During crossing and finishing at the end of today’s session, Perovic went wide to the left and served balls into the middle, where Williams and Raad were among the players crashing the box.
Joseph Niouky Update – I had planned on writing another blog post today with first impressions of Joseph Niouky, but unfortunately that’s been put on hold for the time being. While sliding in for a tackle about halfway through today’s session, Niouky caught one of his teammates’ studs on his ankle/shin and was forced to the sideline for the remainder of the day. I do promise, however, that once he gets back on the field I’ll get up a similar blog with first impressions (and hopefully some thoughts from his new teammates).
I’ll be back later today with a quick post about the ongoing rehab of Taylor Twellman and Matt Reis, both of whom are with the team in North Carolina. Tomorrow we’ll switch focus a bit and concentrate on the team as a whole, as the Revs prepare for Saturday night’s match against the Charlotte Eagles.