A back four with an 18, 19, 22 and 24-year-old could be lining up in front of Andre Blake in the starting XI against Colorado Rapids on March 31.
Left back Fabinho, who left the Columbus Crew match last Saturday with an injury at halftime, suffered an MCL sprain and is questionable for the Philadelphia Union’s first road match of the season.
“MRI’s come back, there’s a little miniscus tear in there which if you went and looked at every soccer player’s knee there would be a little tear in there,” head coach Jim Curtin said during his weekly press conference on Thursday. “There’s an MCL sprain as well so he’ll possibly — we’re still with our doctors right now going through the options — there’s the potential for surgery, there’s the potential for strengthening the muscles around it seeing where he’s at.”
While the staff is still finalizing a plan for the 33-year-old Brazilian, Curtin said there’s a possibility they could be missing the services of one of their veteran leaders for a couple weeks.
Reserve center back Richie Marquez is also out recovering from a sports hernia surgery that Curtin said will keep the 25-year-old out for 4-6 weeks. That would leave 19-year-old Mark McKenzie as an option for the game day 18 in Colorado.
McKenzie and Real are both in Spain with the United States U20 team through March 28.
“There’s a potential that we could call upon (Real and McKenzie) to come back from that trip a day or two early,” Curtin said.
Ray Gaddis subbed in for Fabinho last Saturday while Real had another strong outing the next day in Bethlehem Steel FC’s 4-1 season opening win. McKenzie also started in the match before both flew to Spain to meet up with the U.S. team.
“Those guys got back to back games now, they played France the other day... I thought they played well against a very, very good France team,” Curtin said. “Good for their development. Important we thought that they get the game (with) Steel where I thought both of them had a strong performance and then they went away on the trip.”
The back line has been the story of the season so far for the Union with 19-year-old homegrown Auston Trusty and 22-year-old Jack Elliott anchoring a defense that is the only in MLS that hasn’t conceded a goal this season. Elliott was named to the MLS Team of the Week after both games.
Curtin said he’s pleased with how not just the back line but the whole team has defended but did acknowledge that it’s still very early in the season.
“It’s been two games, small sample size,” Curtin said. “The challenge now is to go on the road and have that same stinginess and not allow a lot of big chances and know that yes, we’re going to be brave and take risks and if we do get beat being aggressive, we can live with that. We also have Andre behind us that can bail us out and make a big save.”