United playmaker Kevin Molino had started every game this season. That streak ended Wednesday.
The midfielder didn't make the match-day squad at kickoff against the Colorado Rapids in the Loons' final group stage match of the tournament. Hassani Dotson took his place.
Molino left Friday's game, a 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake, at halftime. Coach Adrian Heath said Tuesday that Molino was a "gameday" decision.
"He's got a slight hamstring strain," Heath said. "Obviously, he's getting in some sort of really good form at the moment. And the last thing we needed was for him to get a really bad hamstring because depending how bad they are, they can linger for months and months. So we've sort of erred on the side of caution."
In United's four game this year, Molino has scored three goals and made one assist.
Heath had a conundrum on his hands Wednesday. With his trio of forwards all "fit and healthy and available," the coach had to decide who would start.
Luis Amarilla missed the Loons' first game of the tournament against Sporting Kansas City after an injury in warmups. Mason Toye started in his place.
"Both of them have had slight knocks," Heath said earlier this week. "Mason came off in one game with a problem with his hip, and Luis has had a little sort of impingement in his groin area. But both have trained fully [Tuesday]. Both are fine."
Aaron Schoenfeld started the second game against Real Salt Lake, with Amarilla making a late-game appearance as a substitute for 25 minutes. Amarilla resumed his starting place Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids, with Toye and Schoenfeld as options on the bench.
With so many moving pieces within United's lineup, the team has had to craft new camaraderie on the field. For example, reigning MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara is not participating in the tournament yet because of a pre-existing condition. Captain Ozzie Alonso also missed the first game of the tournament.
"Any time that you change out players, especially in the defense, there's always going to be that kind of lack of chemistry going into the game," goalkeeper Tyler Miller said. "But I feel like throughout the trainings, the guys have done well to work together and kind of build that chemistry off the field, on the field, in practices. So that way, when we get to the games, I mean, there's going to be issues initially when it comes to certain things. But I feel like everyone's really responded strong."
Miller said the group's mentality is to push one another in practices, which then translates to games.
"When we have difficult situations where a few starters might go down, and other guys are called upon," Miller said, "… everybody has been able to step up … to help us secure some valuable points down here."