Minnesota United might have to start making contingency plans for its left-back position.
Starter Marc Burch, who missed the Loons' 1-0 loss at Real Salt Lake on Saturday as a late injury scratch, was again missing from practice Monday at the National Sports Center. And he could be out for much longer than a training session.
"We've been sort of nursing him through. We were hoping to maybe get him through to the next window, but the pain just got too much for him," coach Adrian Heath said of Burch's adductor injury, which has plagued the defender all season. "He's down in Philadelphia today [seeing a specialist]. Hopefully, we'll have a bit more information about everything tomorrow."
Heath declined to comment until he had more information about if Burch would need surgery or how extended the player's absence would be.But the coach said he fears "the worst." Burch has been playing through the injury for quite some time, skipping practices on turf that further aggravated the injury. However, the left-back finally came to a point where he didn't feel he could kick the ball strong enough or far enough, Heath said.
"We rely on a lot of quality from him down the left," the coach said. "It was becoming very apparent to us that he [had] an issue with it."
Since his trade to United in March, Burch has started and played nine matches, totaling 783 minutes. On Saturday right-back Jerome Thiesson switched to Burch's spot on the left and Kevin Venegas filled in at Thiesson's usual spot. Heath said he'd prefer to play Thiesson in his natural position, which could mean left-back Justin Davis might have a shot at playing in the team's next match at 7 p.m. Wednesday against the Portland Timbers at TCF Bank Stadium.
With the next transfer window opening July 10, reinforcements at left-back also could be a possible priority, should Burch's injury be serious.
Midfielder Johan Venegas also trained a bit with the team Monday after he was another late injury scratch this past Saturday. Heath said Venegas was fine when initially arrived back from national team duty with Costa Rica, but developed possible sciatic pain and hardly left his bed the whole road trip.
Center-back Joe Greenspan, who left the U.S. Open Cup match June 14 on a stretcher, sat on the sidelines during the session Monday. He is in concussion protocol, and Heath estimated the defender would be out for a week to 10 days. Center-back Vadim Demidov also worked separately, recovering from a knee injury.
Salty after Salt Lake
Despite goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth's late mistake that cost United the match, his heroics earlier on were enough to earn him a spot on the bench as an honorable mention for MLS' Team of the Week.
In reflecting on the match, Heath said while his team started well, the attacking play wasn't good enough. And in the end, the Loons failed to take advantage of a similarly languishing Salt Lake.
While his squad has not been very prolific in the shots department in recent matches, Heath said he doesn't think that was because of any hesitation on his offense's part.
"I'm struggling to really to think of any clear-cut openings in Salt Lake where we could have had efforts at goal," Heath said. "We had enough play around the box. I think Abu [Danladi] had two in the first half, 6-yard box where he tried to cross one I thought he should have just gone for sheer power and tried to beat the keeper."
"Like a lot of teams in this league, we find it difficult to win on the road," he said. "I don't think it's ever been more apparent, the difference between home and away for a lot of teams. And we've certainly fallen into that category."