The Union are looking for that extra 5 percent from forward C.J. Sapong. Not in effort - in healing.
Sapong has been out since he suffered a sprained right ankle in a 3-2 Major League Soccer win over Columbus on June 1. Coach Jim Curtin was hoping Sapong could have played some on Saturday in a 3-2 loss to visiting Vancouver, but he still wasn't ready.
"With ankles, it can be that last 5 percent to come back," Curtin said Monday after training. "It heals really quick, and then you hit this wall, and feel you are doing great and then cut on it, and then you realize to play pro sports at the highest level you need that last 5 percent to come back quickly."
Curtin said there is no timetable on when Sapong will return. The U.S. Open Cup game Wednesday against the New York Red Bulls at Talen Energy Stadium seems unlikely, but Curtin isn't ruling Sapong out. The Union will resume MLS action Saturday in Houston.
Sapong said he still wasn't 100 percent when he cuts, but he remains encouraged.
"It is looking good," said Sapong, who worked on the side with injured midfielder Maurice Edu. "Right now I am optimistic about stepping on the field soon."
The Union won their first U.S. Open Cup game, 3-2, over the Harrisburg City Islanders, which was the first game that Sapong missed.
He has missed three MLS games in which the Union went 1-2 and allowed nine goals. Even though Sapong is a forward who shares the team lead with five goals, he is a big part of the defensive effort. Few forwards in MLS cover as much ground defensively as he does.