MILFORD, Ohio — Forward Fanendo Adi will almost certainly miss a third consecutive game for FC Cincinnati when they host Sporting Kansas City on Sunday afternoon (3 pm ET | ESPN, MLS LIVE on DAZN), with news breaking Tuesday he has been suspended via the league's substance abuse policy.
On Tuesday, Koch revealed Waston had sustained a calf ailment while on international duty with Costa Rica, though Koch believes it's a minor setback.
“They said he may have been able to play last week. but he was going to be susceptible to injury,” said Koch. “If that happened, he’d be out for a long time. So, I think we’d be fools if we were going to risk a player that’s so important to us. I think we made the right decision at that time to take care of him and be a little bit conservative, he got through the entire training session today.”
Saief came on for the final 31 minutes Saturday but was unable to turn the game as he did with his first action for Cincinnati, coming on to contribute the game-tying assist in a historic 1-1 draw at Atlanta United in Week 2.
His latest bench shift followed his first start, and Koch said he's still being cautious with the American-born Israeli passport holder, who had been out of favor at Belgian side RSC Anderlecht before making the move to MLS.
“We have to manage workloads of our players, health, getting them up to speed, match fitness, all of those variables,” said Koch. “Kenny came from a place where he wasn’t playing week-in and week-out. We have to manage all of our players as we progress . . .We’re under no illusions of what Kenny can give us, of course. We’ve seen that already in a short amount of time.”
Saief said he was “disappointed not to start” last weekend, after earning MLS Team of the Week honors in Week 4, but that he wished to put the encounter behind himself and his teammates.
"We need to forget about it,” he said. “But this Sunday already is a big game again, so we are preparing ourselves.”
Adi is suspended after he was stopped and cited for speeding and Operating a Vehicle Impared early Sunday morning by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. He will undergo an assessment by MLS’ Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (“SABH”) and will not be eligible to participate in any competition or team activity until that assessment is complete, he is cleared for participation by the SABH Program doctors and Major League Soccer completes its investigation.
The pressing questions now center on the team’s attacking options with Adi suspended. Darren Mattocks started in place of Adi last Saturday and is FCC’s most ready-made replacement. Kekuta Manneh and Emmanuel Ledesma also offer viable attacking options. However, Ledesma is carrying a hamstring injury and Manneh surprisingly did not train on Tuesday.
Cincinnati may have to rely on a defense-first approach while they assess their attacking options, an approach that will be easier with Waston back in the fold.
“Yes, I’m ready,” said the Costa Rican international, about playing this weekend. “Ready, ready ready. The good thing here is that it doesn’t matter who is going to play. Everybody’s fighting for the same goal.”