Minnesota United has reached the part of the season when injuries and suspensions start to stack up. Add to that several national team call-ups, and the Loons' roster for their next game is looking a bit sparse.
But some good news for the team is at least on player is making a comeback, and he's arguably the one who would make the most difference.
Playmaker Darwin Quintero, who has missed the past two games with a calf injury, trained in full with the group on Tuesday at the National Sports Center. He is likely to play Sept. 12 when the Loons play D.C. United at 6:30 p.m.
"He's gradually been lifting his training. He had the weekend off, but he trained all the way through [Tuesday]," coach Adrian Heath said. "For him, it's been a big 12-days buildup to this game, hopefully, in D.C. So barring any overnight repercussions, he will now step it up again in the next few days."
Quintero is the Loons leading scorer with 10 goals and nine assists in 19 games. With the Loons most recent game back on Aug. 25, this unusual break has given the club time to help all of its players' individual needs.The starters got days off and time to rest and recharge. For those like Quintero, it was ample time to regain fitness.
"The fact that he'll be back," Heath said of Quintero, "will give everyone a lift."
But there are still some noticeable absences. Outside back Eric Miller came off in the 33rd minute of that Aug. 25 match -- at 2-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City -- with a groin/hamstring injury. He ran separately during the session Tuesday.
"He's, obviously, got a little, slight problem," Heath said. "It's just day-to-day, trying to get himself ready. Whether that game comes too early next Wednesday is a we'll see."
The Loons also will do without center back Michael Boxall, who is suspended, as well as center back Francisco Calvo, midfielder Rasmus Schuller and winger Romario Ibarra, who are all on national team duty for their respective countries. None of them will be back in time for the D.C. game but should be available for Sept. 15 at Real Salt Lake. Calvo, though, also will likely miss that game, serving his suspension earned along with Boxall in the Kansas City game.
Heath also said rookie outside back Carter Manley has been impressing his Las Vegas USL team while on loan and should play this weekend despite a small injury.