Union manager Jim Curtin announced Wednesday that goalkeeper Andre Blake has “a little tear” in his groin, and there is no set timetable on the recovery.
"He'll recover as quickly as possible," Curtin said during his weekly press conference. "There's still no definite timeline on it. I think every player will respond differently. We hope to not miss him for too long. It could have certainly been a lot worse, from the information that we got back."
Blake suffered the injury during last Saturday’s win over Montreal.
Meanwhile, midfielder Marco Fabián continued rehabbing his sprained ankle. He has been on the field in the last few days, but not involved in scrimmages.
Both players are out of Saturday's game at the Vancouver Whitecaps (5 p.m., PHL17), a sensible decision given the long travel and two home games against Eastern Conference opponents in quick succession afterward. FC Cincinnati visits next Wednesday, then the New England Revolution the following Saturday.
Forward Sergio Santos remains sidelined by a knee injury, but he returned to the field Wednesday. While Santos wasn’t a full participant, he was involved in some scrimmages.
“He was huffing and puffing -- there was some [lack of] fitness,” Curtin said of Santos, adding that in other ways -- especially sharpness of finishing -- “he was further [along] than I anticipated for a first day back.”
Union fan favorite Tranquillo Barnetta retires
Former Union midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the European season, which concludes in late May. Philadelphia was the 33-year-old’s next-to-last stop in a seven-club, 17-season career, and he was a fan favorite in his year and a half here.
Barnetta also played 75 times for Switzerland’s national team, earning trips to the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
Barnetta ends his career at the same club where it started, Switzerland’s FC St. Gallen.
“Tranquillo, I think I’ve made no secret about it, was one of the best players I’ve worked with talent-wise,” Curtin said. “He was a guy that gave everything for the badge in the short time he was here ... and then was also so humble off the field. He’d take the guys out to dinner, and just got along with everybody.”
Curtin added that the Union might host Barnetta this summer for a ceremony.
“I guess I can start the rumors that possibly he’ll be coming back this year,” Curtin said. “I know we will put on something special. ... He was beloved by the fans and beloved by all the players here, and obviously the staff as well.”
Curtin calls again for more charter flights
As Curtin prepared his players to face the Whitecaps, he also prepared them for one of the year’s longest travel hauls. Because of MLS’ strict limit on charter flights -- four travel legs per season -- the Union will fly commercial. and because there are no non-stop flights from Philadelphia to Vancouver, the team will connect in Chicago going out and Toronto coming back.
It so happened that while Curtin was on the press conference podium Wednesday, the Montreal Impact were stuck on a tarmac for the second day in a row as they tried to get to Boston for Wednesday night’s game against the New England Revolution. The Impact’s scheduled Tuesday flight was canceled after a five-hour delay, and the Wednesday flight was delayed three and a half hours.
Montreal reportedly asked MLS headquarters to postpone the game, but the request was declined.
Curtin sent his sympathies to the team that the Union beat in Chester last Saturday, and renewed his call to MLS owners to allow teams to fly charter more often.
“We talk about the quality of play improving in the league, the quality of player that is coming into the league. I think the owners are in agreement with this: they want that asset protected,” Curtin said. “Recovery in our game now, in the modern game, has become more important, sometimes, than what the coaches can do in training. If you’re not recovering right, you’re going to have injuries. Charter flights, and the ability to get in and out of places quicker and more freely, really aid recovery more than anything."