Philadelphia Union fans anxious to see both David Accam and Fafa Picault tormenting defenses on opposite flanks will have to wait until April after Picault’s appeal of a three-game suspension was denied by the league.
“I’ll just say the appeal helped his wallet, but didn’t help the team in terms of getting him back sooner,” head coach Jim Curtin said on Thursday. “Difficult situation but the league held firm.”
PIcault was handed a three-match suspension for using “offensive language” during a closed door scrimmage with Orlando City on February 14.
The suspension was announced the night before Saturday’s opener, more than two weeks after the incident occurred. Pierre da Silva also received a three-match suspension for the incident, which hasn’t been described in any detail by either team.
Because of the off week this week (thanks, Seattle) and an international break after next week’s home game against Columbus Crew SC, Picault won’t be available for selection until the team returns home to host the San Jose Earthquakes on April 7.
“Unfortunately we lose a very good player for a long chunk,” Curtin said.
Fabian Herbers started in Picault’s place in the season opener on Saturday, his first start and first appearance since May 20, 2017. Curtin said he was happy with Herbers performance on Saturday but took him out in the second half when fatigue started to set in.
Beyond Herbers and the still-injured Ilsinho, Curtin still has other options for the right-sided midfielder position, which is arguably the deepest spot on the roster.
“Obviously Marcus Epps is a guy who is capable on that side, you have Cory Burke who’s done a good job there, Ayuk who was on the bench for selection,” Curtin said. “So decent options. Obviously Fafa is missed. You want to see the that speed dimension that Fafa and David Accam will bring with CJ being the handful that he was over the night.”
Curtin said Ilsinho is making progress toward returning to the lineup. The veteran midfielder pulled a hamstring in the same Orlando City scrimmage where the Picault and da Silva incident occurred (thanks again for that invite, Orlando).
“He has responded to a PRP injection,” Curtin said about Ilsinho. “He’ll be back training with the group hopefully by the start of next week. He’s at least out on the field now touching the ball, running a bit so positive in that regard in terms of getting a quality player back.”