The United Beat
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Defender Brent Kallman and forward Abu Danladi watched Minnesota United practice on Thursday at the National Sports Center from the sidelines.

Kallman and Danladi are both working through injuries that coach Adrian Heath is hopeful will resolve in time for the July 19 match against the Houston Dynamo. But when it comes to the rookie Danladi, the process is a bit more long-term.

Danladi has struggled with injuries all season that have kept him out of multiple practices and matches. At the beginning of the season, it was back spasms. Lately, it has been a hamstring. Heath said he has spoken with Danladi as well as the team's medical and sports science staff about building a program for the player moving forward.

"We've got to do some more work with him physically to protect his body a little bit because the bottom line is he's missed too many days in this sort of first half of the season," Heath said. "We need to get him stronger, his body stronger, so he can cope with the rigors of everyday training.

"Certainly from my own personal point of view, I haven't spent enough time working with him, which was something I was looking forward to doing. So we need to get him in a situation where Monday to Friday, we can get a lot of work into him. And that will make it better for him on a Saturday."

The coach also had an update on midfielder Johan Venegas, who endured an apparent knee injury with the Costa Rica national team in its first match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup this past Friday. Should Costa Rica make it to the quarterfinals of the tournament, which begin Wednesday, Venegas should be recovered in time to play, so he is staying to rehab with the national team.

As far as United's friendly with Mexican team Atlas at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, Heath said that will be a "big game" for the likes of midfielders Collin Martin and Rasmus Schuller and other players who haven't had much playing time this season.

New winger Sam Nicholson will likely make his debut, butfellow new addition defender Michael Boxall probably won't play.

"We're still hopeful, although it's getting increasingly unlikely of getting Boxall in there," Heath said. "We are trying, but we've got issues with, obviously, visas, [international transfer certificates], etc. So I'll be disappointed if we can't get any minutes into him."

The two newbies likely won't be alone for long, though, as Heath said he's hoping -- maybe a bit optimistically -- to have four to five total new players on the roster by the end of the secondary transfer window Aug. 9.