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Revolution look for Lekic to be dynamic

By Frank Dell’Apa
Globe Staff / April 17, 2011

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Rajko Lekic proved himself as a goal scorer in Denmark, his play with Silkeborg IF earning him a national team call-up last year. But Major League Soccer presents a different challenge for Lekic, who will make his debut for the Revolution against the Houston Dynamo tonight.

“It’s a strong league and they are playing good football,’’ Lekic said of MLS. “Football is not the same — here in the States it’s more about speed and strength. In Denmark, it’s more technical. So, it’s going to be a test for me. But I think I can do it.’’

Lekic, 29, has scored 114 goals for clubs in Denmark, Hungary, and Spain. He totaled 22 goals in 61 games in the last two seasons for Silkeborg IF in Denmark’s Superliga, the last on a penalty kick against Odense in his final game for the club last month.

The Revolution now have several strikers — Kheli Dube, Zack Schilawski, Ilia Stolica, plus Lekic. But with Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan suspended, they will have to revamp the midfield in order to develop a possession game and provide a link to the forwards.

“The big thing for us is to make him chances,’’ Revolution coach Steve Nicol said of Lekic. “His overall game is really good. We just have to get him the ball.’’

Lekic was recruited to MLS by California-based agent Dejan Drobnjak, who also represents the Revolution’s Marko Perovic and Stolica. Lekic competed several times against former Revolution defender Michael Parkhurst, who has been with Nordsjaelland the last two years.

“This is a good team with good players,’’ Lekic said of the Revolution. “And MLS is a big league with big names, and I think the league is getting stronger and stronger. This is a big chance for me.

“I played for Denmark and it was a very nice experience. But the Danish team is very strong — they have players like Nicklas Bendtner from Arsenal, players from the best clubs in Europe, so it’s not easy to make the team. But if I work hard and score many goals I think I have a chance.’’

Lekic, who made his national team debut as a second-half substitute for Bendtner against Austria last year, was born in Gladsaxe of Montenegrin parents.

The Revolution have a 6-1-3 record against Houston and a 4-0-1 mark at Robertson Stadium since the Dynamo relocated from San Jose in 2006. The Dynamo defeated the Revolution in two of three finals — winning the MLS Cup in 2006 in Frisco, Texas, and in 2007 in Washington, and losing in the Superliga in 2008 at Gillette Stadium.

The Revolution took a 2-1 win over the Dynamo in Houston last October, and, though both teams had been eliminated from playoff contention, the match had a highly competitive edge as Geoff Cameron and Joseph Ngwenya were red-carded in the final minutes.

“There’s definitely a rivalry,’’ Nicol said. “Both teams want to do well and win, that never changes. There may be a different face or different name on the back of the jersey but the hunger and desire should never change.

“Both teams peaked, but one thing that stays the same is the desire to win.’’

The Revolution will also be missing left back Didier Domi (hamstring). And midfielder Ousmane Dabo (calf) does not appear ready to make his MLS debut.

“Things have a strange way of working their way out,’’ Nicol said. “We’re going to have to change personnel, but everyone who’s not playing is dying to play, so they get a chance to play.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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