With a number of nagging injuries, the off week for the Chicago Fire may have come at a good time.
A week ago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said he had only 14 players for a training session. The combination of injuries and players being away on international duty left the coach short-handed.
The biggest injury concern, of course, is David Accam. Accam missed the match against Columbus and his status remains up in the air.
“David is recovering well," Paunovic said in his weekly conference call with media. "We still don’t know if he will be able to be on time for Saturday’s game, but he is recovering well and we are happy with that. We have to check his status day-by-day and see how he will recover for the game. At this point we can’t say if he will be able to play the game against Philly.”
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Two other injuries from last week were Arturo Alvarez and John Goossens. Paunovic said both trained with the full group today so it sounds like both will be available Saturday against the Philadelphia Union.
Paunovic said he expects Brandon Vincent and Matt Polster to be available Saturday upon returning from the U.S. U-23 team, but will have to see how they feel when they return to Chicago. The U-23s can qualify for the Olympics with a win Tuesday against Colombia in Frisco, Tex., after a 1-1 draw on the road.
In other news, Paunovic talked about the loans of Patrick Doody and Drew Conner to Saint Louis FC. Doody, in his second loan stint with the Fire's USL affiliate, started the season-opening 1-0 loss at the Real Monarchs on Saturday. He was subbed out in the 89th minute. Conner came on as a sub in the 84th minute.
Paunovic said the club had decided to loan out Doody and Conner "a long time ago."
“We believe that young players need to play," Paunovic said. "In order to develop well they have to have games, playing in real games with competition. That’s very important."
The two Fire Homegrown players will be joined by teammate Eric Gehrig when Saint Louis FC visits LA Galaxy II on Wednesday. Gehrig is fit after surgery last season, but needs game action.
"We expect that he can get some minutes in order so that he can be better prepared and eligible in the game against Philly or the next game," Paunovic said. "We are not putting any deadline in front of him or us. We just want Eric to recover well, build some minutes in the game and after that we can evaluate how he feels."
More temporary loans like Gehrig's could occur in 2016.
“In the future we are thinking about sending more players there back and forth in order to get more minutes," Paunovic said. "The last game a lot of players that we have, young players, the last game they played 90 minutes was maybe six or four months ago."
Finally, the last nugget Paunovic gave was more of a hint than an actual piece of information. When asked about any potential player additions to the roster before the first MLS transfer window closes on May 11, Paunovic said, "We are working on that."