When the Union take the field Saturday night against the New York Red Bulls at Talen Energy Stadium, they will likely do so without Marco Fabián, who has been dealing with an ankle injury that dates back to mid-April. The midfielder, who left for Atlanta to join the Mexican team’s Gold Cup training camp after Sunday’s 3-2 win at Minnesota United, has been ruled out for his national team due to the injury and will return to Philadelphia later this week without a target date for his next appearance.
Fabián logged 27 minutes in St. Paul, Minn., but his fitness hasn’t improved as much as he and the Union’s medical staff would have liked.
“[Marco and I] talked about maybe when we rushed it to Toronto, being a little too soon, and now being a little bit smarter this time around,” Union manager Jim Curtin said, referring to his initial return May 11, when he re-aggravated the injury. “I thought he had a positive impact on Minnesota ... and now the ankle still hasn’t responded perfectly.”
With Fabián facing an indefinite period of time away from the pitch, a thin midfield group will have to fill No. 10′s void for an extended period of time. The Union midfield foursome of Jamiro Monteiro, Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, and 18-year-old Brenden Aaronson turned in a shaky performance against Minnesota, but Curtin remarked that he didn’t think the team’s three-game winless streak leading up to Minnesota was reflective of the midfielders’ form.
The Eastern Conference-leading Union (8-4-4) aren’t alone in missing some of their key players. With the MLS’ two-week Gold Cup hiatus looming, teams have seen a significant number of players depart for national-team camps. Additionally, the Union’s Mark McKenzie and Matthew Real are in Poland for the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Their U.S. team shocked France 3-2 on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals.
While having fewer players available is not ideal, Curtin sees a temporarily smaller squad as having the potential to be beneficial.
“It’s going to be an opportunity for other guys to step up,” he said. “I’ve got to give the players a ton of credit for all the work that they’ve put in and the fitness levels that they’ve shown. Playing three games in a week hasn’t affected us a great deal, and everybody, physically, is coming out of it pretty well ... A good, healthy team right now with some tough decisions to make for the coach, but that’s a good problem.”
New York (7-5-3), is on a five-game unbeaten streak, and Curtin knows that a matchup between familiar foes will make for a tighter game than last weekend’s wide-open, end-to-end affair in Minnesota. A healthy group rife with players fighting for playing time is the perfect combination for the Union as they prepare to renew the rivalry. Throw in a home crowd that won’t get to see its team for a couple of weeks, and the players should be buzzing.