After a three goal win over Montreal last weekend, Jim Curtin spoke about players that are injured, fighting injuries, and pushing for spots in the first eleven against Vancouver Whitecaps this Saturday.
Marco and Dre timelines
In the second half of last Saturday's win, Andre Blake took a goal kick and immediately grabbed his leg. The goalie left with a groin injury, paving the way for Matt Freese to earn his first MLS minutes.
“Andre had the MRI after the game and there is a little tear in there with the groin so he’ll recover as quickly as possible but there is still no definite timeline on it," Curtin admitted. "We hope not to miss him for too long, it could have been worse.
"With Marco, the ankle, he is out on the field now which is a good sign," Curtin continued. "The ankle has responded well but as with ankles they are tricky and you can feel good one day and ready to go and then you have a little bit of a feeling it’s not quite stable."
Freeze has the goods
"We believe in Matt and we believe in Carlos as well," Curtin said of his goalkeeper options with Blake out. "We will have to make a decision for what’s best for Vancouver.
"Really happy for Matt, he didn’t have a ton of work to do but had some back passes to him had good contact. You have these discussions with the parents when the initial signing happens and you look out on the field and whisper to them it’s going to be sooner than you think that he’s going to be out there and this one came true.”
Curtin was particularly impressed with how the rest of the Union squad stepped up to support Freese when he entered the pitch.
"You saw his teammates had his back when he ran on the field, Haris shakes his hand and thumbs up; a couple Montreal guys come over to harass him a little bit and Ray pushing them away."
The other injured player on the mend is Sergio Santos. The Brazilian striker is closing in on full fitness and got back on the field Tuesday with his teammates.
“He trained today for the first time fully," the head coach said. "He was huffing and puffing and there was some fitness but he was excited to be back with the group.
"I can tell you when you are injured it’s a lonely feeling, you’re doing work but it’s a different kind of work and it’s a lot of off to the side and little ball work. For him to be fully into the group he was excited and put a lot into the session today and was further than I anticipated for a first day back with getting fully acclimated in but he has the fitness level that he lost his wind pretty quickly."
Looking ahead, Curtin indicated the staff will look for Santos to take big strides as he aims to get back on the pitch.
"Now it’s how he responds to a day where he was pushed hard, tomorrow will tell us a lot but a really good sign and he scored some really good goals in the transition exercise we did."
Matt Real's readiness to start
“He’s started games in MLS already," the head coach said. Indeed, Real was in the first eleven against Colorado, San Jose, and Orlando at the start of 2018. He looked strong going forward but struggled with his defensive positioning.
"He’s improved in practice on a weekly basis and that’s something that we look at. We have to analyze how others are doing at the position during the week as well. Fabinho is coming back off of an injury but he got minutes too with the Steel so we’ll have a tough decision to make and we’ll make the one that works best for the matchup."
The Union will make their decisions and take their best shot at Vancouver at 5 p.m. ET next Saturday, and you can follow all the action on PHL17.