Depth charge? Philadelphia Union suddenly spoiled for midfield options
CHESTER, Pa. – With his team ravaged by injuries and international absences, John Hackworth was forced to dig deep into his bench last week.
The Philadelphia Union manager should have no such issues this week as Philly prepares to welcome Chivas USA to PPL Park on Friday night (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
During his weekly press conference Wednesday, Hackworth said that midfielders Michael Farfan (left ankle contusion), Danny Cruz (left hip contusion) and Kléberson (right quad strain) have all returned to training. He also noted that that the club’s fourth injured midfielder – Michael Lahoud (sports hernia surgery) – tried to give it a go Tuesday but couldn’t make it through a full session.
“I would say that all three of the guys back in training in full have a great chance to play,” Hackworth said. “We obviously missed those guys for sure in Houston [on Saturday] and it will be great to have them back.”
Hackworth will still be without striker Jack McInerney and midfielder Keon Daniel because of the Gold Cup but will have two other players at his disposal in goalkeeper Oka Nikolov and left back Fábinho.
Both of the recent international acquisitions will be available for Friday’s contest now that the summer transfer window has officially opened. But while the Union manager noted they’re “absolutely” in the mix to make the 18-man roster vs. Chivas, he said he hasn’t yet decided on when they’ll make their MLS debuts.
“We don’t really want to rush a guy,” Hackworth said. “At the same time, if a guy is ready and has done well in training, we’ll give him a chance. For both of them, we’re happy with where they are but haven’t made a final decision on either one.”
Speaking through a translator, the Brazilian-born Fábinho talked with Philly reporters for the first time Wednesday. And, for what it’s worth, the former A-League defender didn’t seem to have an issue biding his team behind starting left back Ray Gaddis.
“The guys that are playing right now are really good players and I’m not coming in looking to immediately be the guy,” he said. “But day by day, I’ll work hard and show the coaching staff that I can contribute.”
Fábinho and Nikolov may also be joined by one more transfer-window signing in the coming weeks – which, of course, will only add to the club's depth. Who that player might be, however, Hackworth did not want to specify.
“We are actively trying to pursue a couple of players but we really just have one spot available,” the Union manager said. “It has to be the right player for our team and it has to be a player we’re targeting. We hope we can make an announcement and acquire that player soon.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.