Minnesota United lost 2-0 at FC Dallas this past weekend while missing three key players, and that problem hasn't quite gone away.
While the Loons will have center back Francisco Calvo and midfielder Collen Warner back in the lineup Saturday at Sporting Kansas City after serving suspensions, playmaker Darwin Quintero will still be out with a calf strain. And joining him is outside back Tyrone Mears, who is out with an undisclosed injury.
Against Dallas, coach Adrian Heath implemented a 4-3-3 system, which featured Mears and Eric Miller as outside backs and also started winger Frantz Pangop. Heath said he didn't feel like new winger Romario Ibarra or striker Abu Danladi, who has missed a lot of time with injuries this year, were fit enough to play 90 minutes, which is why he chose Pangop for his first start.
But the offense couldn't quite start anything and the defense wasn't quite as solid as it had been while the Loons played the 3-5-2. So Heath is contemplating going back to that or sticking with the 4-3-3.
Quintero's loss is big in either formation. Heath said he's hopeful that after the 7:30 p.m. game Saturday, Quintero will be fit to play for the next game on Sept. 12 at D.C. United.
"There's no point in pushing somebody," Heath said of letting Quintero use the upcoming two-week break to regain full health. "We get into that stage, we know we're running out of games, but I think we have a better chance if he's fit for most of them."
Mears has been in and out of the lineup this season, but the team might particularly miss him for this game. He scored the only goal, a screaming distance strike, in United's 4-1 loss on June 3 at Kansas City. That's the only goal the Loons have scored in Children's Mercy Park in three meetings since 2017. Meanwhile, Kansas City has scored 11.
"To use a boxing analogy, I don't think we've ever laid a glove on them while we're away," Heath said. Last year's 3-0 league loss at Kansas City was the most disappointed he's been as United's coach,he said, calling the performance "embarrassingly bad."
Heath did say, though, that it is possible to see the return of outside back Jerome Thiesson, who has missed the past 13 games with a calf injury.
"Jerry's got an opportunity to be back with the group," Heath said. "So we'll have to decide where we think or do we think he'll get involved this weekend."
New defensive midfielder addition Fernando Bob will not available to play Saturday, but Heath pointed toward that D.C. game. That would be the first time Bob has played competitively, besides a regional league in Brazil, since November 2017.
"He had a problem in his shoulder, like a separation in his shoulder, so obviously, that's a delicate one," Heath said. "And then obviously he was going through the situation with his club, trying to work out what, he had another year left on his deal, so obviously they had to come up with some agreement there."
Heath said he's been pleased with how Bob has trained with the team, and the two weeks between this Saturday's game and the next will give the midfielder ample time to get up to speed.