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March 02, 2016

Union Notes: 'Aggressive' rehab, knee injections and that guy with the vuvuzela

Union manager Jim Curtin provided more details of the injury that's keeping captain Maurice Edu out of Sunday's season opener.

Speaking Wednesday at his weekly press conference, Curtin explained that the midfielder picked up his "stress reaction" while rehabbing the sports hernia surgery that shut him down last September.

"So, he's healed completely from the groin surgery," Curtin told reporters. "He was in Los Angeles, where some great doctors took care of him in terms of the surgery for his groin. (He) aggressively approached his rehab, maybe in hindsight too aggressively, and there's what's called a 'stress reaction'. I think people freak out when they hear that. It's not a broken bone, or anything like that. It's just a warning sign that there's potential danger. At the moment he's been in and out of a walking boot to try to keep him as immobile as he can be. He wants to be on the field and he's anxious to get going. I think everybody's frustrated with the situation."

No Need to Rush

Tranquillo Barnetta missed training on Wednesday with his nagging knee issue.

"Tranquillo had an injection in his knee, just to try to loosen some things up there," Curtin explained. "It's not a new injury, or anything like that. It's a situation where he had some tendinitis and soreness in there from past surgeries. We'll monitor that and be smart. I had a good discussion with him. Maybe, (in the past), we'd be forcing him back prematurely, but we feel like we have more depth this year, and that's a credit to the rest of the guys in the team. We don't feel the need to rush guys forward. Obviously he's a very important player."

The Union are well stocked in the attacking half of the midfield and can fill Barnetta's spot with Ilsinho, Roland Alberg, or Leo Fernandes.

'Hope they don't get on the ball'

The Union have the unfortunate distinction of opening on the road against one of the best teams in Major League Soccer.

FC Dallas won 13 games at Toyota Stadium last season, sparked by the creativity and skill of maestro Mauro Diaz and winger Fabian Castillo.

Castillo had a breakout campaign in 2015. He bagged nine goals and nine assists and earned an all-star selection while also breaking into the Colombian national team.

"Hope they don't get on the ball, or don't play in the game, I guess would be the first part," Curtin joked. "Look, those guys are incredibly talented. Castillo one versus one is a top player in our league. He has the ability and the speed to go by anyone and get to the endline. We've worked very hard on how we recover to the front of goal, particularly our center backs. During the course of 90 minutes, (Castillo) is going to get to the endline a couple of times. It's something we'll do our best to prevent. But in the case that he does, we want our guys to be prepared as best as possible."

Diaz had a solid season, despite missing time through injury. He finished with eight goals and 10 assists, grabbing three of each during the final six games of the campaign.

"Mauro Diaz is a very talented player, can play the final pass, can get a goal from midfield," Curtin continued. "You have to be careful not to foul him around the box because he provides some of the best service in our league. Again, these guys are top players in our league. It's a team effort. It's not one of our outside backs versus Fabian Castillo, it's our whole team buying into the style that we want to play. All parts need to be together, our forwards, midfielders, and defenders need to be on the same page, be nice and compact, and not give those players time and space.

Deafening in Dallas

Curtin relayed a story that popped up during an offseason coaching course attended by a number of MLS managers.

"The one thing that everyone brought up to (Dallas coach Oscar Pareja) during one of our meals was that there's a guy that sits behind the bench, and he blows one of those vuvuzelas. His timing is impeccable. The second you stand up to relay a message to any player, that thing is in your ear, and it's deafening. It's almost to the point where you have to turn and smile at the guy, because you literally cannot communicate on the field, solely because of him as an individual. It's a hostile environment. They have a good fanbase and a good team."