Minnesota United FC's goalkeeper conundrum has found a temporary fix.
Coach Adrian Heath said at practice Wednesday the team has identified Billy Heavner as Bobby Shuttleworth's backup for this weekend in Colorado with starter John Alvbage and third-choice Patrick McLain both out with injuries.
Heavner is a former University of Maryland-Baltimore County product who most recently has been on trial with United Soccer League side Bethlehem Steel FC. Heath said goalkeeping coach Marius Rovde is familiar with the 23-year-old.
"Obviously, Patrick McLain got hit in the face with a ball and has aches and has gone through the [concussion] protocol," Heath said. "Hopefully, Billy will come in, and it won’t be for too long and just help us through the weekend. We hope he isn’t going to be called upon, but sometimes it happens. We’ve spoke to people in Philly that know the guy really well. They spoke well of him. So hopefully he will do the job that he’s been brought in to do, which is give us a backup if we need him over the weekend.
"We are hoping by the time we get back from Colorado, then Patrick will be back in and in the full swing of things."
Alvbage, though, might take a bit longer to recover from a gash near his left knee endured in the 6-1 loss to Atlanta this past Sunday. He will be out for one to three weeks.
National team departures on the horizon
The Finnish national team has called up midfielder Rasmus Schuller for a World Cup qualifier March 24 against Turkey and a friendly March 28 against Austria.
That means the starter will miss the March 25 match at the New England Revolution.
It's also possible that Trinidad and Tobago will call up midfielder Kevin Molino, and Costa Rica will call up center-back Francisco Calvo for World Cup qualifiers in that same time period. Costa Rican midfielder Johan Venegas could also be called up, but his wife is expected to give birth "any day now," Heath said. So depending on when the baby comes, Venegas might or might not depart.
Heath said he is hopeful all of these national team players, who are all starters, will return in time for the April 1 home match against Real Salt Lake.
"When they go away for international duty, you are always keeping your fingers crossed that you get them back in time, and they are fit and healthy," Heath said. "We have anticipated this. We’ve worked really hard with the sort of group that is not involved. The last sort of 10 days have been high and intense, and we are going to need some of them bodies. The sort of Ibsons and maybe Josh Gatts and people like that are going to get an opportunity like that."
Schuller said while it is a little disruptive to leave his club team just three matches into the season, it can also act as a boost once he and his teammates with international duties return. There are only three scheduled MLS matches for March 25: United vs. New England, New York Red Bulls vs. Real Salt Lake and Columbus Crew SC vs. Portland Timbers.
"You want to be here as well, but at the same time, it's like, that's the highest honor for me as a player to play for the Finnish national team," Schuller said. "So I can only see it as a positive thing and get energy from those call-ups. And when I get there, hopefully get to play, and then bring that good energy back here."