PHILADELPHIA -- First, the Philadelphia Union had to deal with a bunch of injuries and absences for Wednesday’s game against Real Salt Lake.
Now, for Saturday’s contest against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium (9 pm ET, watch on MLS LIVE) – the second game of a grueling two-game road swing – the situation has become even more pressing.
Following injuries to Danny Cruz and Michael Farfan in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with RSL, the Union could be without five key midfielders in Houston, as well as leading scorer Jack McInerney, who is away with the US national team.
“Looking at the schedule, we’ve had to play some really good teams in this last stretch,” Cruz told MLSsoccer.com. “I think we’re handling it well, but it becomes very difficult when pretty much every midfielder you have is in pain or hurting.”
Cruz, who has started 17 of the Union’s 18 games this season, had Saturday’s contest circled on his calendar for a long time, hoping to get the chance to play against one of his former teams.
But like Farfan (left ankle contusion), Kleberson (right quad strain) and Michael Lahoud (sports hernia surgery), he’s listed as questionable on the injury report. Keon Daniel, like McInerney, is on international duty, with Trinidad & Tobago at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
With so many question marks, Union coach John Hackworth will likely give Leo Fernandes his second straight start, and could also give extended minutes to Matt Kassel, Don Anding or Roger Torres.
“Leo’s done a very good job in training,” Cruz said. “The best thing about Leo is he wants to learn. Any time he makes a mistake or anything like that, we’re making sure he doesn’t get down on himself and that he understands he’s a very good player. He deserved the start he got.”
Still, Cruz will try to give it a go once again.
“I’m doing everything I possibly can, so we’ll see about tomorrow,” Cruz said on Friday. “But as of right now, it’s not looking good.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.