They’ll attempt to do so, however, playing without one of their more dangerous weapons, midfielder Chris Pontius.
Pontius injured his groin during Thursday’s training session and United coach Ben Olsen said Friday he’s “not sure” how much time Pontius will miss.
“I have faith in the talent level of this group,” Olsen said. “Even with a couple injuries, even with Chris Pontius out, who pulled a groin, I still have a lot of faith in the talent aspect. And I have faith in them that they have the mentality to win games as well. It hasn’t always shown up, but I certainly have faith in them to do that.”
Despite the fact that Pontius has yet to score this season, the injury comes as another difficult blow for last-place United in what already has been a trying campaign. Midfielders Nick DeLeon, John Thorrington and Lewis Neal all are working their way back from varying injuries, leaving United with very little depth in the middle.
United have called up 2013 SuperDraft first-round pick Taylor Kemp ahead of Saturday’s match to provide some reinforcement for a team that’s been shut out four times in seven matches.
“We’re pretty thin in the midfield if you take Chris out,” Olsen said. “We don’t have a lot of options for wide midfielders and Taylor, I’ve played him there before. I think he’s capable of filling in that spot if we need him.”
Last season, United were able to deal with untimely injuries to key players down the stretch, but in the final leg of the Eastern Conference Finals against Houston, and now to start the 2013 campaign, the ailments have proven too difficult to overcome.
“To me, it becomes an opportunity for another guy to step in and show us that he’s a guy we can rely on,” Olsen said. “And to be fair, throughout this injury stretch, that’s one major positive here is we’ve had guys like [Kyle] Porter and [Raphael] Augusto and [Marcos] Sánchez get real minutes. And when we do get healthy hopefully we’ll have more options and more competition, which I think we’re lacking right now.”
Earlier this week, Olsen said he’ll be evaluating his players with a critical eye and wouldn’t be afraid to make changes if necessary. If the injuries keep piling up, however, he might not have much choice.
“It’s up to them to put those things together,” Olsen said. “It’s up to them to have 11-plus guys show up and do the job and have good games, or good enough games to get results. And not have two guys with concentration lapses, set piece deficiencies. These things add up and they can spiral. But there’s 81 points out there. That’s a lot. It’s important to remind ourselves of that and that there’s a lot to play for still in this season.”