Sheanon vs. Crew preseason
Don Montague

Players, trainers feverishly working to get vital pieces of Union puzzle back to full strength

As players continue to battle for roster spots, other players continue to battle the injury bug.

That was a big storyline coming out of the Philadelphia Union camp on Thursday.

Conor Casey was the first player mentioned by manager John Hackworth.

“Conor has been nursing a soft tissue injury (in a calf),” Hackworth said. “We have held him out of training games and that’s been a problem. We have a couple of other guys who are out as well. We clearly miss Conor right now, but our priority is to try to get him and other guys who are banged up healthy. We still think there’s a lot left in the tank (with Casey).

“Our job is to try to get him healthy. When he’s ready, it will be an easy integration for him to come back in the team. We just want to make sure we are trying to get him back at 100 percent so we don’t risk having him out longer.”

According to Hackworth, other players currently injured are Michael Lahoud, Antoine Hoppenot, Pedro Ribeiro, Richard Marquez and Sheanon Williams.

“We would be hopeful that we would have Conor back in time for the opener,” Hackworth said. “We’ll see how that plays out. Lahoud and Antoine are doing really well (and) we should have them available no problem. Pedro might be a week or two behind that. Richie Marquez has a knee injury which we need to maybe give a little more time. Sheanon is getting an MRI to figure out exactly how long he’ll be out.”

In the meantime, there’s a regular season looming and the club is fully aware of that fact.

Enough changes were made so the roster features some much-needed depth.

“I think we had a good plan going into preseason,” Hackworth said. “We knew it was going to be difficult with a shortened preseason, which I think all the clubs and coaches are having a hard time with. The league is starting earlier than it has ever started. You especially have the impact of climate conditions in the northeast that are going to affect all the teams up there. In the big picture, we have a ways to go before I think we’re going to be ready. The hard part is knowing how far away that is.

“I feel we’ve made some real progress, and at the same time, you’re never really satisfied with where you are.”

If the Union can get Casey back for the March 8 opener at Portland, that will help immensely. And it will provide even more depth for the club.

“If Conor can play at the same level he played at last year, I would think he’s going to have a similar impact,” Hackworth said. “At the same time, he’s a year older. He’s already carrying an injury right now. He hasn’t played in these preseason games. And that’s a concern. But we still think there’s a lot left in his tank. And our job is to try to get him healthy and see how effective he can be for our team.”

Think some of these setbacks will imact season opener? Leave a comment below.

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at


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