Califf doubtful, Mwanga could return vs. Chivas
CHESTER, Pa. – For the Philadelphia Union, one Danny is poised to return from injury. Another Danny doesn’t appear to be as fortunate.
During Wednesday’s weekly press conference, Union manager Peter Nowak revealed that striker Danny Mwanga had a positive first day back at training after missing Philly’s last game with a rib contusion, while center back Danny Califf is still nursing a left hamstring strain and is likely out for Saturday’s game against Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center (10:30 pm ET, The Comcast Network).
Califf, the Union’s captain, has already missed as many games this season (three) as he did during his first two years combined in Philly, and his absence has caused Nowak to reshuffle the backline.
In Philly’s last game – a 1-0 win over Columbus – Nowak slid right back Sheanon Williams over to Califf’s spot in the center and plugged in rookie Raymon Gaddis at right back. The Union manager indicated that he’ll probably do the same Saturday against Chivas, rather than use veteran Chris Albright at center back.
“The old-school formula is never to change the winning team,” Nowak said. “I think we’re in a position right now where these guys feel comfortable. To mix it up after we worked so hard to establish something, I think it would be very difficult to throw other guys around.”
As for Mwanga, the first overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft should be healthy enough to get back on the field this weekend, if needed. But with so many strikers vying for playing time, Nowak could opt to hold him out another week.
Mwanga, who’s made two starts and four appearances this season, said he hurt the left side of his ribs when he fell on them in practice last Thursday and that he still feels soreness there when he sprints or even laughs.
“I’m still not up to 100 percent,” Mwanga admitted after Wednesday’s training session. “At least I trained today and I’m getting better.
“Today I think I made a really big step forward. Hopefully it goes well and I’ll travel. If not, I’ll try to get healthy and be ready for the next game.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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