It’s been three weeks since Andrew Wooten arrived in Philadelphia to a standing ovation at the Theatre of Living Arts on South Street at a Men In Blazers live show and it will be at least another week until he plays in front of a home crowd.
The 29-year-old striker is set to make his MLS and Philadelphia Union debut on Saturday night in Sandy, Utah. Wooten was officially added to the roster with the secondary transfer window opening on Tuesday.
“This will be his first opportunity to be selected for the team and as of right now he’s in the 18 and will go to Salt Lake and get his first experience there,” head coach Jim Curtin said during his weekly press conference on Wednesday.
Curtin seemed to hint at Wooten being a second half substitute in the game when he said he didn’t want to put “too much burden or pressure” on him right away.
“He’s building up his fitness,” Curtin said. “I think his body is adapting well (to the heat). He’s a very intelligent player, really good in holdup and really comes to life in front of goal.”
Since Wooten joined the team, both Kacper Przybylko and Fafa Picault have made their case on the field to pair with the former Sandhausen forward in the attack. Sergio Santos has struggled and based on form is fourth in the pecking order.
Curtin noted that it’s also possible to play all three with Pryzyblko dropping in as a No. 10, which he did in a training exercise on Wednesday.
“Kacper in a lot of ways has some really good characteristics of a number 10,” Curtin said. “He arrives late in the box, can play a final pass, he holds the first ball that comes into him in between the lines.”
Pryzbylko enters Saturday sixth in the league in total goals with nine and third in goals per minute.
As debut performances go, playing in Utah will present some challenges with the stadium nearly a mile above sea level and temperatures forecasted to reach 98 degrees.
“It’s always a hard place to go,” Curtin said.
The game is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on the Live Well Network and streamed in-market on PhiladelphiaUnion.com.