Picault served a three-game suspension — announced on the eve of the first game of the season — for using “offensive language” during a closed door scrimmage with Orlando City SC in preseason. Orlando midfielder Pierre da Silva was also handed a three-game suspension for the incident.
“It wasn’t between us — there were two separate occasions,” Picault said in an interview on Wednesday. “Honestly, nothing crazy happened. It was a moment, and a word that was taken completely out of context. But it’s OK, I respect the league’s zero tolerance, and I’m just ready to move forward from it and do what I’ve got to do.”
The 27-year-old provided a burst of speed and offensive production to the Union attack when he arrived last season after spending three seasons with FC St. Pauli and a season with AC Sparta Prague, where he crossed paths with Union midfielder Borek Dockal. He had seven goals in 28 games for the blue and gold playing primarily on the left side of the midfield.
During his weekly press conference on Wednesday, head coach Jim Curtin said having Picault out — and the three-week waiting period to find out — has been similar to having a player out injured.
“There is always the question of fitness but he’s a guy who takes care of his body,” Curtin said. “I think he’s worked very hard to stay sharp with the group but everybody knows game sharpness is different. You can have friendlies and you can play intra-squad games but nothing quite recreates the reality of the 90 minutes.”
As has been his custom, Curtin didn’t say whether Picault would start on Saturday but that he will play a role one way or another. Fabian Herbers, Ilsinho and Marcus Epps were also mentioned as possibilities for the right wing.
The Union offense is in desperate need of a spark after two straight shutouts. After scoring two goals against New England — both against 10 men — the offense has gone 201 minutes cold.
Curtin said having a full selection of attackers should bode well against San Jose. Dockal and David Accam both struggled on the road in Colorado but could receive a boost with another playmaker in the lineup.
“Speed creates space, that’s the easiest way to put it,” Curtin said. “Guys that stretch the field...make center backs drop and outside backs stay back and make them have to defend us, which is a key.”
However he decides to use him Saturday, Curtin is relieved to have Fafa available for selection again.
“He’s a change of pace guy for sure, changes the game,” Curtin said. “The more playmakers you have on the field the more difficult it becomes for San Jose to handle.”