Through the rain and snow the grit and determination of Fabian Espindola was clear as he combined with Jairo Arrieta to provide a menacing attack for United against Alajuelense in CONCACAF Champions League play. That was on March 4th and that was the last time Espindola suited up for DC United.
Despite the 2-1 win over Alajuelense on that stormy night, United’s run in the CCL came to an abrupt end and because of a six-game suspension from an incident in last fall’s playoffs so did Espindola’s competitive activity. The six-game suspension has been served and Espindola is likely to return to the field when United plays Saturday in Vancouver.
Before the season there was concern about how United would fare without Espindola, but Saturday’s game between United and Whitecaps FC is a matchup between two of the early season leaders in MLS. Indeed United more than survived Espindola’s absence and has put together a more than acceptable 3-1-2 record.
- Integrating Espindola. Working Espindola back into United’s attacking rotation is a nice problem to have for head coach Ben Olsen. Eventually Espindola and Luis Silva are likely to continue their strike partnership that delivered 22 of United’s 52 goals last season. For Saturday it would seem more likely that Espindola would be used as a substitute against the Whitecaps. United needs the skill and guile of Espindola to add bite to its attack. United has only six goals in six matches and ranks 14th in MLS in shots. Perry Kitchen is United’s leading scorer with two goals, and while that is a credit to him, it is not his role to be the leading scorer.
- Dealing with the Whitecaps attack. The Whitecaps lead MLS with 10 goals from eight matches and also lead the league in shots and shot on goal. United will have to especially be on guard for the Whitecaps counterattack. Octavio Rivero blazed out to a hot start with five goals in his first six games, but has been held scoreless in the last two games. Rivero will be motivated and it is possible he could link up with Darren Mattocks who delivered the match winner last week against Real Salt Lake. In short the Whitecaps have speed, skill, and options and their first place standing in the Western Conference is justified.
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As teams around the world prepare for the start of Champions League play, the Premier League continues to ramp up play.
Here are the latest updates from the Premier League:
Everton: Marco Silva said midfielder André Gomes was unable to practice due to a rib injury he sustained in week four. Gomes' status is uncertain for the near future.
Chelsea: 21-year-old forward Tammy Abraham scores a hat trick in Chelsea's 5-2 win over Wolves. Abraham has established himself as Chelsea's top forward, as he has now scored 7 goals on 11 shots over the past three games.
Norwich City: An extensive injury report could not stop the Canaries against Manchester City, as striker Teemu Pukki tallied a goal and an assist. Norwich City now finds itself with two wins and three losses after the historic 3-2 victory over the reigning Premier League champions.
Tottenham Hotspur: Forward Son Heung-min scored twice as the Spurs scorched Crystal Palace for four goals in the first half, blanking Crystal Palace the rest of the way. The well-balanced offensive attack saw six different Tottenham players contribute at least one point.
Liverpool: Midfielder Roberto Firmino impresses off the bench with a late assist to forward Mohamed Salah as Liverpool pulls off the comeback win against Newcastle United.
Coming out of an international break for World Cup qualifying, there is plenty of news and notes coming out of the Premier League.
Here's the latest news coming from across the pond:
Tottenham Hotspur: Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso has been ruled out for at least six weeks with a groin injury he sustained during the international break while playing for Argentina. He originally played down the incident, insisting it was just a precautionary measure. The Real Betis midfielder, who's on a season-long loan to Spurs will now be out until at least the end of October, according to a team statement
Tottenham Hotspur: A bit of good news from Hotspur Way as 17-year-old striker Troy Parrott has been making waves all summer on the Republic of Ireland's U-23 side. He provided a last-minute assist in a preseason win over Juventus. With Lo Celso's injury, Parrott could soon emerge as a substitute option for Spurs.
Newcastle United: F Andy Carroll was involved with first-team training as he prepares to return from ankle surgery. Barring any setbacks, it shouldn't be more than a month before he's able to return to the pitch. "Andy, we'll have to still be patient," said manager Steve Bruce. "However, for the first time, he joined in with the group to a degree. He only took part in half of the session, non-contact, but it's good to see him out kicking a ball again. I always knew that it would be towards the end of this month, and halfway through the next month."
Source: NBC Sports Rotoworld