Unlikely to start, Fabian Espindola nonetheless content with looming New York Red Bulls return

Victor Bernardez and Fabian Espindola dispute a ball

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UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Fabián Espíndola said he is unlikely to start against D.C. United this weekend, but he is happy all the same with his looming return to action for the club.

Sidelined the last couple of weeks because of a hamstring injury, Espíndola is expected to be in uniform for the New York Red Bulls when they visit arch nemesis D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Saturday (7 pm ET, watch on MLS Live). Espíndola missed New York’s last two games, a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union at home and a 3-1 road loss to the Chicago Fire, with the knock he sustained in a training session shortly after the 1-0 loss to the Montreal Impact on March 23.

“Fabián I just had to pull out of practice at the end because he’ll keep going and going,” Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke told reporters on Thursday. “He’s made great strides and he is in a great position to see the field this weekend.”

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Espíndola’s return comes slightly ahead of schedule and that is a welcome bit of news for the Argentine forward, who admitted to having a tough time with being shelved because of the knock. 

“I’m not used to being sidelined, it’s horrible to not be with the team,” said Espíndola, who has scored twice this season and was denied by the woodwork on two other occasions in a scoreless draw with United last month. “They said I’d be out three weeks but I was only out 13, 14 days, so I’ve come back pretty quickly.”

Espíndola has been working on fitness while recovering from the hamstring problem, but he did not estimate how many minutes he thinks he can play. The veteran also said that he does not think his return will drastically change the struggling Red Bulls.

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“When we’re playing like this, I don’t think it’s any one person’s fault and I don’t think any one person is going to come and change the script,” said Espíndola. “We just have to stick together as a team and get the results, which is most important.”

While Espíndola is in vs. United, Péguy Luyindula is out. Petke admitted on Thursday that Luyindula, who has started the last three games for New York, is dealing with a hamstring issue of his own that was sustained in last Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Chicago Fire.