FOXBORO — Developing depth has been a key ingredient for the success of the New England Revolution thus far this season.
Revolution coach Bruce Arena rewarded Wilfrid Kaptoum with his first starting assignment since May 22, and he set in motion New England’s lone goal in a one-goal win at Atlanta United over the weekend.
New England (8-3-3, 27 points) has been atop the Eastern Conference since May 16. The Revolution return to Foxboro for a Sunday 6 p.m. kickoff against Montreal after traveling to Miami for a Wednesday match.
Alongside Matt Polster and Lucas Maciel Felix, Kaptoum said, “I felt very good because in the end, Maciel and Matt are very good controlling the ball and they are good players defensively,” he said of playing with a sense of purpose.
“I felt very protected alongside my teammates, and with Carles (Gil), who plays very well in the middle of the field, too,” Kaptoum said of picking up his first MLS career point.
New England and reserve goalie Brad Knighton recorded their fourth shutout of the season against Atlanta, while Gustavo Bou’s match-winning goal in the first half was his sixth goal over the past seven matches.
Kaptoum was on Arena’s radar in his offseason pursuit of players due to his experience in playing six professional seasons in Spain, with FC Barcelona, Real Betis and Deportiva Almeria. His passing skills, playing with pace and work ethic, were a match for Arena’s system.
“I thought Kaptoum, for his first game in a while, played very well in the midfield,” Arena said.
The 25-year old Cameroonian midfielder has been able to play in just seven matches, with three starting assignments, this season due to injuries.
According to Polster in having Kaptoum alongside, “I thought we all balanced each other out really well. We’re all good on the ball. Defensively, we’re all capable of defending in moments. And I thought our spacing was good.”
Kaptoum joined the LaMasia club in his native land at the age of 12. After playing in Spain, he believed he was in for a period of adjustment playing in MLS.
“I think MLS and Spain are different leagues,” Kaptoum said through an interpreter. “Here, I think the first impression I had is that the soccer is more physical. It’s good technically, too, compared to Spain, which is much more technical than physical. It’s a question of adapting to the competition.”
Kaptoum is finally getting up to speed due to some preseason and early-season nagging leg issues. “ I know that I’ve had some problems physically, but I’ve left those in rear-view mirror. I’m trying to keep improving and do what I need to do to help the team reach its objectives.”
Kaptoum indicated that he is match-fit and ready for more responsibility with the Revolution. “I feel very good. I think that’s why the coach chose to start me, to help the team continue playing well and get three points.”
Until beating Atlanta, the Revolution had been winless in three (0-2-1) matches, while allowing seven goals. “The three points are always important, no? Especially after a loss,” Kaptoum said of New England resuming its winning ways. “That’s how we will continue moving forward.
“The more you win, the closer you are to the objective.”