Minnesota United is having some pretty bad luck when it comes to knees this year.
Winger Ethan Finlay tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, the club announced Tuesday. He is the second player to go down with a season-ending injury. Starting midfielder Kevin Molino tore the ACL in his left knee during the March 10 game at Orlando City.
"For Ethan, it's a devastating blow, but the one thing I know here now is that if ever there was a kid that would come back stronger and probably in better shape, it would be him," coach Adrian Heath said. "He's a great professional, trains every day 100 percent. And I have no doubt he'll take that into his rehabilitation."
Finlay is the third long-term injury for the Loons along with Molino and holding midfielder Sam Cronin, who has been out since preseason because of concussion issues.
With the primary transfer window closing May 1, Heath said it might be "a little bit late" to make a move for another player. Heath did say there were "two or three people ringing around," so he wouldn't rule out a possible addition.
Finlay's injury was similar to Molino's in that he also went down in the first half but kept playing until Heath subbed him off in favor of Sam Nicholson for the second half. Finlay seemed to plant his leg awkwardly before a hard collision with Seattle's Alex Roldan in the 37th minute of Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Sounders. Finlay immediately grabbed for his right knee.
That lineup change led to some moves up top with Finlay's absence on the right wing. No. 10 central playmaking midfielder Darwin Quintero seemed to drift out more wide right while left winger Miguel Ibarra played more interior.
"I always prefer to play through the middle and move through the spaces that are left behind by the forwards in front of me," Quintero said in Spanish through a translator. "But when things are closed up, it can be really helpful to move out on the wing and kind of open up that space by doing that."
Forward Christian Ramirez said Finlay's injury just presents more opportunity for players such as Nicholson, Ibarra and winger Frantz Pangop to step into more prominent roles. Heath said he hasn't decided whether to tweak his shape or individual personnel for the 7 p.m. Saturday game against the Houston Dynamo at TCF Bank Stadium.
Finlay's loss is "a blow to us because he's such a lively guy in the locker room, on the field," Ramirez said. "He brings so much experience in this league. It'll be a tough loss."
Finlay, 27, came to United midway through last season from the Columbus Crew, where he had played since 2012, looking to restart his MLS career after some down seasons.
He started and played 11 games in 2017, scoring three goals with three assists while locking down the right wing starting position. In seven starts this year, he scored two goals with one assist.
Finlay is expected to have surgery on the injury in the coming days and will join Molino in rehab, hoping to return into play in 2019.
Other notes from practice Tuesday at the National Sports Center:
• Peruvian midfielder/defender Alexi Gomez practiced for the first time with United on his season-long loan from Club Universitario de Deportes. Gomez can play on the left wing and could be one of the many options to fill the gap Finlay leaves, but he's still waiting for his international paperwork to clear. Heath said Gomez only arrived in town this past weekend and has had the flu since he's been here, so asking him to play a full 90 minutes Saturday might be too much.
• Outside backs Tyrone Mears and Marc Burch also participated in practice again. They are recovering from calf and knee injuries, respectively.
• Forward Abu Danladi did not participate after taking a few knocks in Sunday's game and coming off in the 52nd minute. Heath described Danladi's availability as "day to day.''