With 16 regular-season games played and seven remaining, the clock is ticking on Minnesota United two-time MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara’s return.
He hasn’t played since the season’s second game back in March because of what the team only calls an “undisclosed” injury or condition. He didn’t accompany his teammates to Orlando, Fla., for mid-July’s MLS is Back tournament and hasn’t played any of the resumed regular-season games since then.
Loons coach Adrian Heath often has said he’s hopeful Opara will play again this season.
“At this moment in time we’re in a situation where I’m not going to count on Ike until we find out otherwise,” Heath said. “It’s frustrating for everybody, not the least of all the kid. It’s not a good situation for him. Hopefully, down the road we can get him back.”
Newly acquired French defender Bakaye Dibassy and veteran Jose Aja have played Opara’s center-back positions while he has been sidelined.
“Obviously, we’re running out of time,” Heath said. “We’ve got another month of the regular season and then hopefully the playoffs. It’s getting where we’re fearing the worst. If that’s the case, that’s the case. Nothing we can do about it.”
Heath on Friday said is team is seeking to add another striker beside Kei Kamara and Aaron Schoenfeld. Loons striker Luis Amarilla still awaits another opinion on an injured ankle to decide whether he’ll need surgery.
“We’ve had a look and if something became available, we would look at it,” Heath said. “I’m more concerned with the big picture rather than just the new few weeks. If we felt it was a must, we would take somebody on a short-term loan until the end of the season. We’ve done that with Kei. I would like it to be somebody who’d be with us for the next year or two minimum.”
Heath said he’s hopeful that appointment will come by early next week.
“It’s getting to that stage where we have to make a decision,” he said.
Young designated player Thomas Chacon remains with the Loons and probably will stay there through season’s end after the team pursued loaning him to a team in South America or Europe.
“Time’s running out,” Heath said. “There were only a couple places where that could happen, and obviously the longer it goes, the more we’re thinking he’ll end up staying with us at least until the end of the year.”
• Healing captain Ozzie Alonso trained with the team again Friday in Blaine. Heath has been targeting Sunday’s game at FC Dallas for his return from a hamstring injured Sept. 6 against Real Salt Lake. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Heath said Friday.
• Midfielder Ethan Finlay called himself “a little more sore than normal” after he worked out lightly Friday, two days before Sunday’s game at FC Dallas. He played all 90 minutes Tuesday at Nashville in his return from a knee injury. “We’ve got an extra day rest, which is a great advantage for me,” he said.