Coach Adrian Heath is hopeful for goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth's return for the 5 p.m. Sunday match against the Colorado Rapids at TCF Bank Stadium, but midfielder Rasmus Schuller is more of a question mark.
At Minnesota United FC practice on Wednesday, Schuller participated in the first half of practice before bowing out to train separately. Shuttleworth trained separately the whole time. Both left the 2-2 draw at the Houston Dynamo this past Saturday late in the first half, Schuller with a hip flexor injury and Shuttleworth with a head laceration and concussion.
"Bobby is in concussion protocol, but we think he's OK," Heath said. "He's had this before, and he feels an awful lot better than he has in the past. So we're hoping that he's going to be OK for the weekend. Rasmus, we'll have a better idea tomorrow after he's done a little bit this morning, see if he gets any reaction."
While Shuttleworth had won the starting goalkeeper position from John Alvbage since the latter was injured in the second match of the season, Schuller was making his return to the starting lineup for the first time since the 2-2 draw at the Colorado Rapids on March 18. But instead of playing in the holding midfield, as per his usual, he was up in the left midfield role.
"We didn't have him long enough [in that position]. It would be nice to see it longer than, what was it, 30 minutes, 35 minutes? But it's something that he's done before but not for a while, so we'll see," Heath said. "We wanted him to be infield more than outfield. One thing he isn't is a flying left winger. But what he can do is play in that little channel, that little hole in between, maybe cause their wide guy an issue, what, does he come in? And then we can free the fullback."
Schuller was one of the players Heath had mentioned was pushing for starting minutes last week. The other, forward Abu Danladi, has played in partnership with forward Christian Ramirez when he has come on as a second-half substitute the past few matches.
"I ultimately see him playing through the middle," Heath said of Danladi. "The one thing that he's showed, which has been a little bit of a surprise to me, is the discipline that he shows when playing in wide areas, because, obviously, once the ball turns over, you have to get into shape quicker, and you have more of a responsibility with our opposite fullback or wide guy. And he's proved that he's not afraid of the hard work."
Danladi's personality also has come across more in recent practices. Apparently, the rookie and Swiss right-back Jerome Thiesson are about to take their show on the road.
"I didn’t realize Abu was so funny, and he doesn't mind being the butt of his jokes as well. So he's been a welcome addition," Heath said. "And Jerry, them two are forming a little partnership, a little comedic partnership. So that’s good to see."
Also, it was Heath's first time on a baseball mound Tuesday evening when he threw out the first pitch ahead of the Twins game. Check that out here. The coach also said he has "no doubt" midfielder Kevin Molino will finish the season with a double-double in assists and goals.