Minnesota United returned to practice at the National Sports Center on Monday after a five-day break, and that time away did the squad some good.
"Most of the guys have been running on empty. Most of us have had five, six games in 20 days," coach Adrian Heath said of speaking to other coaches around the league and seeing how everyone was similarly run down. "So it's been really tough on the players, and I just think sometimes, it's not even a physical thing. A mental thing of getting away form the facility, getting away from each other for three, four days is huge. They managed to do that, and it was a good, hearty banter in the dressing room this morning. So I think it's done everybody good physically and mentally."
There were a few absences Monday (midfielders Kevin Molino and Ish Jome, defender Brent Kallman and goalkeeper John Alvbage) because of injury and just different schedules for return from the break. Forward Abu Danladi and left-back Marc Burch trained separately on the sideline.
Heath said both Kallman, who has an MCL sprain, and Danladi, who left last week's match early with an injury, are "day-to-day," but the goal is to have them fit by the return to league action July 19 against the Houston Dynamo.
Burch, who had bilateral sports hernia surgery June 20, is doing "fantastically well" with his recovery, Heath said.
"We're really pleased with his progress," Heath said. "And we're hoping to get him back earlier than we thought, which is a big positive."
Burch was initally supposed to be out through mid-August or mid-September.
Heath also said he has heard from the Costa Rican national team about midfielder Johan Venegas, who went off about 30 minutes into Costa Rica's first CONCACAF Gold Cup match with an apparent knee injury. From what Heath's heard, it isn't a serious injury.
Center-back Francisco Calvo also started and played all 90 minutes in Costa Rica's 1-0 result against Honduras this past Friday. Defender Jermaine Taylor played all 90 minutes of Jamaica's 2-0 victory against Curacao this past Sunday. Costa Rica faces Canada on Tuesday while Jamaica plays Mexico on Thursday. Check out the full schedule here.
While those three national team members also were absent from practice Monday, there was one new addition. Winger Sam Nicholson, who officially signed with the team Monday, trained with the Loons for the first time.
"He's been here for a few weeks now but hasn't been able to do anything because of, obviously, waiting for all the contractual stuff to be finalized," Heath said. "He looked very sharp and very bright. We have to understand, this is preseason for him because he's had his year, and now he's had a few weeks off. So the last seven or eight days have been double days for him. And now we'll continue to build him up for that game against the Houston Dynamo."
Heath also said the friendly against Mexican club Atlas at 7:30 p.m. Saturday will be "huge" for Nicholson to gain some competitive minutes. Heath also said "everybody" will be involved in that match.
However, the next few days will also see the club make some decisions on the fates of "one or two players," according to Heath, including goalkeeper John Alvbage, whose loan is up Saturday.