RJ DEMELLO - Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The New England Revolution got back to business Saturday afternoon, playing to a 0-0 draw against the Seattle Sounders, doing so without defender Kevin Alston.
Their starting left back is out indefinitely as a result of being diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, a rare but treatable form of the disease.
The diagnosis leaves the team deeply hurt as it is not just a coworker, but a friend that this happened to. "Definitely a bomb dropped (with the announcement), it's very emotional, it's very hard for Kevin, and it's very hard for us." Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe told Full Volley.
It seems that a common theme around the team is that the gravity of the situation really has put things into perspective for them.
"It really makes you go home and think about it, wins and losses are vital in our game, and we know it, and sometimes that feels like life and death," Said head coach Jay Heaps. "A lot of times its not, it might be life and death to your career but not so much waking up and breathing-it makes you take a breath and makes you think about things."
With such an event hitting so close to home, Rowe thinks that it only serves as motivation for him and his teammates, "The guys just get a little more fire under their bellies and it's easier to get up for practice every day because we never know when it's going to be our last."
Alston's reaction to the diagnosis hasn't gone unnoticed to his teammates as well. He made the announcement in person in the locker room with the team, and has visited with them since. For rookie Andrew Farrell, Alston's own reaction has certainly helped with that of him and his teammates, "He's a great guy and he's got such a good attitude about it- and that helps us."
Though the game may seem less important now after such events, the fact is that New England must now find a way to replace a key player to the team. Alston started every one of the first four games of the season that saw the Revolution defense rated best in the league. Suddenly there is a gaping hole at left back that needs to be filled.
Heaps thinks that the solution is rather simple, "we have players that need to step up." He continued, stating that losing a player is something you have to be prepared for, "The way we built our team was to be deep, so we feel we have depth there whether it's Darrius Barnes, Chris Tierney, Ryan Guy we've got some depth at left back we feel can do a pretty good job defensively for us."
This past weekend at Seattle, that someone that stepped up was Chris Tierney, who got the call at left back for New England in Alston's absence. He played the full 90 minutes on the way towards the Revolution's third shutout of the young season.
The team hopes that the great defensive form can continue with Heaps stating the goal is, "to be in a position for the playoffs when (Alston) comes back."
Whenever the day of his return may be, in the mean time, the Revs will continue to play for and with Alston on their minds.
As fellow defender Farrell put it, "He's always going to be with us."