News from training today: United announced it will play a July 17 friendly at Allianz Field against Aston Villa, an English second-tier Championship league team that has a rich history in English football and the Premier League..
Also, United veteran defender Ike Opara didn’t train Tuesday and is unlikely to play Friday at Toronto because of a hit to the head and seven stitches needed to close a gash over one eye.
Opara was injured in the 84th minute of a 3-3 tie with New York City FC when he banged heads with Valentin Castellanos when both went to head a ball. He was replaced by Brent Kallman, stitched up and monitored in the following days for signs of a concussion.
“Initially, we don’t feel it’s a concussion,” United coach Adrian Heath said. “He got a bad bang obviously, a bad laceration. His eye is a bit puffy. We’ll see…It’s probably going to be a bit too soon for him this week. We’ll give him every opportunity. It may be a game-day decision. We’ll wait and see.”
United also will play a May 22 friendly against Hertha Berlin, a famed team in the German Bundesliga league and might play one against a South American team in September as well. United CEO Chris Wright calls the scheduling strategically chose to “grow our footprint in the global game.”
He said the July 17 date for Aston Villa – a Birmingham team Wright calls a “big, big brand” in England that might be back in the Premier League by then – was selected specifically because it's in the middle of USA Cup in Blaine, which presents a wide international audience for the game.
Aston Villa currently is placed fifth in England's Champions League, but is positioned to win its way back to the Premier League by summer. That's the same league from which United acquired goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
Heath played for Aston Villa in the 1989-90 season. The club was founded in 1874 and has played in Villa Park since 1897. It was a founding club of both the Football League in 1888 and the Premier League in 1992.
Tickets to the general public go on sale Thursday, April 25. Season-ticket members, members of the Preserve and newsletter subscriber will get access to presales starting this week. The game is not included in season-ticket packages.
Midfielder Miguel Ibarra returned to training Tuesday after the longtime Loon missed the chance to play in Allianz Field’s debut because of a hamstring injury.
“He trained this morning and we’ll see how he is,” Heath said. “Obviously, he hasn’t done a lot the last seven, eight days. But if he has no complications, he could be available for the weekend.”
And one more thing:
United sent striker Abu Danladi and rookie midfielder Hassani Dotson to their FC Madison affiliate to get some game action in tonight’s friendly against the University of Wisconsin.
Danladi entered Saturday’s game in the 78th minute for Darwin Quintero.
“He’ll go down and get minutes today, which we feel as though he needed. Abu’s got himself back in and we didn’t need him going a couple weeks without playing.”
Heath said Danladi and Doston probably will play 45 to 60 minutes tonight and then returned to United in time to travel to Toronto on Thursday.