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Even with squad rotation, some Philadelphia Union players seeing minutes hard to come by

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Fontana among reserve midfielders not seeing many minutes

New York City FC v Philadelphia Union

With the Philadelphia Union heading into their third game in eight days, head coach Jim Curtin plans to continue to rotate his squad.

But even as he rotates his squad — he gave Mark McKenzie and Ray Gaddis the night off Saturday since they had played every minute of the season — how deep he is willing to go into his roster remains to be seen.

While players like Warren Creavalle, Ilsinho, Jakob Glesnes and even Andrew Wooten and Olivier Mbaizo of late have found minutes, the midfield trio of Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro and Brenden Aaronson have been least likely to relinquish minutes. Combined, the trio has missed only 5 percent (101) of available minutes through the first eight regular season minutes.

“I would say we’re pretty thin in the midfield and we need to stay healthy, that’s for sure, just like every team in the league,” Curtin said in a press conference Tuesday.

Ilsinho has been a go-to sub off the bench but beyond the veteran Brazilian, Curtin has been stingy with minutes to reserve attacking midfielders. Anthony Fontana hasn’t appeared in a match since July 30 and has recorded just 62 minutes while Jack de Vries has eight minutes in two appearances.

“Anthony still is a high quality player that we believe in, but just hasn’t gotten his opportunity and when he does hopefully he takes it,” Curtin said Tuesday when asked about Fontana.

In the defensive midfield spot behind Creavalle, who has spelled Jose Martinez, Matej Oravec and Cole Turner have yet to see the field this season. Oravec recently went back to Slovakia to join their U21 team ahead of UEFA Euro U-21 qualifiers.

“He’ll go there I hope to get more confidence, come back, get a run a games, which obviously he hasn’t been getting here because there’s no Union II games, we haven’t been able to get him minutes,” Curtin said when asked about Oravec last month.

Protocols for Covid-19 preventing interaction between the two teams has meant not getting minutes for players being loaned down like Turner, de Vries, goalkeeper Matt Freese and Michee Ngalina for USL Championship games. As it is, Union II hasn’t played since August 5 because of positive Covid-19 cases that have postponed their last three games.

Turner, Ngalina and Freese have not featured for the first team in 2020.

Matt Real, meanwhile, has already set a career high in minutes with 319 with starter Kai Wagner battling injuries. Real had 303 total minutes in his first two seasons with the first team.

Curtin said Wagner is questionable for tonight’s game after leaving the match against D.C. United with an injury.

“I’m not 100 percent sure he’s one way or the other right now,” Curtin said Tuesday.