Minnesota United will be down two defensive players when it takes on the Philadelphia Union at 7 p.m. Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
While holding midfielder Sam Cronin has been dealing with a concussion for the past week, center back Jermaine Taylor endured one of his own after colliding with forward Abu Danladi in practice on Tuesday at the National Sports Center. Taylor had recently returned from national team duty with Jamaica.
"Just as you think everybody is back fit and well, another one goes down," coach Adrian Heath said. "JT has been important for us, especially in games late on when we've been under pressure. We've put him in there, and he's had some big headers. He came back from the Gold Cup [in July] really positive because they defended really well in their games for Jamaica. So that's a bit of a blow for us because he's been a really good piece for us this year to have, whether it be starting or certainly coming off the bench late on when we're defending the goal in numbers. He's terrific at that."
The Loons' other national team players also dealt with hitches in their returns, mostly because of hurricanes. Midfielder Kevin Molino just arrived back at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, according to Heath, while center back Francisco Calvo, midfielder Johan Venegas and center back Michael Boxall are all still in transit. They should all be back by Friday. Heath said as long as everyone is fit and ready, he doesn't foresee a lot of lineup changes from the previous two matches when the squad has performed so well.
One change could be forward Christian Ramirez, though, who Heath said is looking possible for being "involved" this weekend after several matches out with a hamstring injury.
Heath also briefly gave his thoughts on the gaffer gnome, and it was a good laugh.
"My sister says she's going to use it as The Elf on the Shelf this year," Heath said. "Both my nieces are a little bit afraid of me, apparently."