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Twellman's set to take the field

He'll make season debut likely as a sub

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Frank Dell'Apa
Globe Staff / May 9, 2008

FOXBOROUGH - Taylor Twellman is ready to make his season debut when the Revolution visit Chivas USA Sunday. But Twellman, recovering from knee surgery, will not likely be in the starting lineup, marking only the second time he would be a substitute since 2003.

Twellman was set to be in the lineup for the opener March 29 but was scratched during warm-ups, undergoing surgery for meniscus damage April 2.

"I did it four days before that," Twellman said yesterday. "It was a gradual thing. MRIs had shown that I had something with the meniscus for a while but my legs were strong enough to compensate for it."

The Revolution (3-3-1, 10 points) have been outscored, 10-5, since defeating Houston in the opener. Forwards Adam Cristman and Kenny Mansally have converted one goal each.

Twellman, the Revolution's all-time-leading scorer with 107 goals in all competitions, played only one full match during preseason, hoping his knee problem would be resolved without surgery.

"It was wear and tear," Twellman said of the injury.

Revolution coach Steve Nicol said he will be cautious with Twellman.

"He's not injured but, at the same time, we want to be sensible about it," Nicol said. "He's only been training properly for four days. We'll decide between now and Sunday."

In recent months, Twellman, 28, has regained a place on the United States national team, received a significant offer from Preston North End in England, finalized divorce proceedings, and lost his favorite strike partner, Pat Noonan, who left to play for a Norwegian club.

Twellman, who was not expected to return before mid-May, began jogging less than two weeks after the operation.

"It's a matter of taking care of my body, first of all," Twellman said. "They were thinking eight weeks, but I thought I could come back before that.

"But I also needed a break from a lot of things, my personal life. It was not only my knee that needed to be cleaned up. I'm not 100 percent; I'll be rusty, but it will come."

Twellman has been assertive in finishing drills in recent days and yesterday was making full-speed slide tackles during a half-field possession drill.

"It's been frustrating to watch," Twellman said of the Revolution. "We haven't done it on the field and we've got to clean it up. There has been a change of players and there are going to be growing pains. You have to know what each other's tendencies are, what guys like to do, what they don't like to do. You can see it in the faces of the guys who have been here."

Twellman has mostly avoided injury since the 2004 season, when he missed a month with a hamstring strain. In '03, Twellman was eased back into the lineup after contracting sinusitis playing for the US, twice appearing as a substitute before regaining his starting role. Twellman performed as a second-half substitute in one game last season after returning from an extended stint with the US.

Field conditions will play a part in Twellman's return; he prefers the natural surface at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

"It's grass and it's a huge field, I love playing on it," Twellman said. "And Chivas will come to play soccer, give [coach] Preki credit for that."

Twellman hopes to return to the US national team and said his chances of a European transfer could be revived. Major League Soccer refused a $3.5 million offer for Twellman, which would have been the second-highest transfer in league history.

"Another offer could come in July, and that is still a goal of mine," Twellman said. "I am going to help the Revolution until then. But I've always wanted to go over [to England] and give it a shot."

Forward George Wilson Welcome trained with the Revolution this week but is expected to return to his club, Arsenal, in Roatan, Honduras. "We'd like to see more of him," Nicol said. "We hope to get him back but it depends on his club." . . . Chivas USA central defender Claudio Suarez was suspended after receiving a red card in a 0-0 tie with Houston last Saturday.

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