Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.
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With all of Minnesota United's injuries this season, head coach Manny Lagos agreed that their bye last week came at a good time. "You never know from a competitive standpoint, with the kind of win we had two weeks ago," he said. "But from an individual standpoint, there are a lot of guys who are excited to get back in there."
Both midfielder Aaron Pitchkolan and forward Etienne Barbara could return on Saturday; both are back in training after injuries. Pitchkolan limped off in the first half against Tampa Bay on May 18, one month ago, with a sprained ankle, and the linchpin of United's midfield has been out since. Barbara last saw the field in the same game; he's been dealing with a sprained disk in his lower back since, and those of us who've had back problems know how fiddly those can be.
On the downside, it appears unlikely that center back Connor Tobin or Miguel Ibarra will be involved on Saturday, as both are doubtful with injuries suffered last week against Fort Lauderdale. Tobin, who missed significant time earlier this year with an ankle sprain, injured the other ankle near the end of the game against the Strikers, and he's looking at significant time out - probably enough to keep him out through the end of the spring season.
Ibarra picked up a very bad contusion on his knee in that same game, and didn't train on Monday. Lagos was hopeful that he might be able to get back to moving around today, but at this point, the winger has to be considered doubtful.
Lagos did mention that both Max Griffin and Simone Bracallelo were getting stronger and back to 100%, so on balance, it's looking like a positive injury report this week - the first in a very long time for Minnesota.
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