Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said he expected to use captain and dependable defensive midfielder Ozzie Alonso as a substitute in his return from injury late in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Houston.
Alonso ended up playing 75-plus minutes instead when starter Hassani Dotson left the game after just 15 minutes following an opponent’s hard, high tackle that left his ankle swollen. His teammates called the tackle dangerous, and deserving of more than a yellow card.
Alonso replaced Dotson and played until the very end on a 34-degree night. He hadn’t played since he injured his hamstring during a Sept. 6 home victory over Real Salt Lake.
“The idea was maybe give him 10 minutes if we were lucky,” Heath said. “We certainly weren’t expecting him to play 70 minutes or maybe more. Hopefully, he’ll come through OK because we can ill afford to have any recurrence of his issue. He feels OK at the minute, but obviously him getting through it might benefit us because we’re certainly going to need him in the next few weeks.”
Alonso simply posted “Happy to be back” on his social media accounts after his return.
“It was good to have Capi back,” said midfielder Jacori Hayes, who started alongside Dotson while Alonso was out and Jan Gregus was gone to play for his Slovakia national team. “It’s tough coming back from a muscle injury and I think he did well. He’ll have that leadership presence for us moving forward. I don’t know what Hassani’s deal is; hopefully he’s back for the next game.
“It seems we’ll need all hands-on deck and we’re just going to keep pushing for those playoffs.”
Midfielder Ethan Finlay, who scored two first-half goals Sunday, knows all about such a comeback. He played all 90 minutes earlier this month in Nashville in his return from September knee surgery. The two postponed games allowed Finlay more time to recover from that game. He started and played 69 minutes while scoring twice.
“He was faced with a challenge, a little bit how I was,” Finlay said of Alonso. “He played significant minutes in his first game back and I thought he did good. For a guy 34 years old, coming back from an injury after weeks, in a tough game, in the cold and coming off a hamstring is not any easy thing to do.”
Chicago match rescheduled
Minnesota United’s home game against Chicago that was postponed last Wednesday has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 4. The game was postponed after a player’s coronavirus test came back suspected positive but for which additional testing proved negative. It came three days after a game at FC Dallas was postponed when tests on two Loons players were confirmed positive.
• Heath said rescheduling that Dallas game is proving to be a “little bit tricky” because the teams’ schedules don’t match well before MLS’ last regular-season game is played Nov. 8.
• Star playmaking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso was neither a starter or substitute Sunday. Heath cited a “medical” issue for Reynoso’s absence. Heath said he’s hopeful Reynoso will play Saturday at FC Cincinnati. Defender Jose Aja and midfielder Thomas Chacon also weren’t in the 18 on Sunday.