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The Union have back line question marks ahead of FC Dallas match

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Jack Elliott is day-to-day and Olivier Mbaizo could be an option at left back

Trey Madara

Philadelphia Union center back Jack Elliott is questionable and head coach Jim Curtin has another potential decision to make about who he’ll start at left back for the FC Dallas game this weekend.

Elliott put in a half-session at training on Wednesday and Curtin said he didn’t feel the sharp pain he felt when he left the Orlando City match in the 52nd minute.

“With Jack it looks like it will be day-to-day so we’ll see where he’s at,” Curtin said during his weekly press conference on Wednesday.

The left back position is another question mark coming off a game where Matthew Real struggled. Defender Olivier Mbaizo, who was signed from Bethlehem Steel FC earlier this week, is now available. While he was initially signed to a USL deal in January, he’s only trained with the first team. After a strong start in Florida, he’s been slowed by a knee injury and paperwork delayed his signing with the first team.

Curtin called the 20-year-old from Cameroon a “true defender.”

“He likes to defend one v. one and does have really good timing going forward,” Curtin said. “He gives the team good width and serves a good cross.”

Real has started the last two matches for the injured Fabinho, who Curtin said could return to training as early as today.

“He’s been really good in terms of going forward,” Curtin said about Real, noting he could have three or four assists from crosses already. “Obviously there’s some things in the last game he can work on defensively but he’s done well.”

In addition to Fabinho being out, Richie Marquez is still unavailable for selection but Curtin said he feels he has enough depth to make it through this weekend without having to make an emergency loan for Steel FC center back Brandon Aubrey.

If Elliott isn’t able to start Saturday, McKenzie would likely make his first MLS start with Joshua Yaro, who started and played 45 minutes for Steel FC on Sunday, as the backup.

“It seems like the back line with Josh coming back and playing some good Steel minutes we’ll have enough center backs and outside backs to get through the FC Dallas game,” Curtin said.