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March 09, 2016

Union notes: More on Edu; Barnetta returns to training

Soccer Union
030916_union_KK Kevin Kinkead/for PhillyVoice

The Union run through practice Wednesday in Chester.

Union manager Jim Curtin needs a replacement for captain Maurice Edu, who is ruled out for three months with a stress fracture in his left leg.

The first option is to continue with veteran Brian Carroll in the holding role. The 34-year-old started and went 90 minutes in last week's season opener.

Warren Creavalle is another option at the six spot. The team also experimented with Vincent Nogueira in the role this preseason, though Nogueira is more of an “8” in the Union's 4-2-3-1 system.

"There's a couple of different things you can do," Curtin explained at his Wednesday press conference. "Brian has done a good job all preseason. The group that played against FC Dallas is the group that earned the minutes in preseason, whether that was in certain situations injury, or visa issues, or different things that were going on. But the team that earned the right to play on opening day was on the field. Again, there were a lot of variables that came into that, with Ray (Gaddis) missing time to a knee injury, Richie (Marquez) missing time to a groin/hamstring issue, and Roland (Alberg) having to go overseas to finalize the paperwork issue. 

"The team that was selected was the best group. We'll have to adjust and see what makes the most sense. Brian Carroll has been sharp all preseason. He was one of the few guys who I felt on the weekend had a positive performance, along with Andre (Blake). He was breaking up plays and did a decent job for us. We'll look at it, look at the tape, and take it week-to-week. It does change our team, obviously, but at the same time, I'm happy and comfortable with the guys we have. Warren, Brian, maybe it's Vincent who can go in there and do a job in that number six role."

Barnetta Back

Tranquillo Barnetta returned to training on Wednesday afternoon.

The midfielder missed the season opener with tendinitis in the knee that was surgically repaired in 2011 and 2012.

Barnetta did some light fitness work on the side, then worked on some basic ball exercises while the rest of the team played short-sided games.

"He's running" Curtin said. "Again, he'll be kind of a week-to-week situation. At the same time, we have to be smart with his knee. He knows his body well, and our doctors, our rehab people do a great job. We'll assess it. I talk with Tranquillo every day and we'll see what's best for that situation."

What's up with Richie Marquez and Ray Gaddis?

Gaddis and Marquez have been training in full since last week.

The pair missed out on the opener because of minor injuries that limited their preseason participation. That resulted in MLS debuts for Keegan Rosenberry, Ken Tribbett, and Anderson Conceicao.

Gaddis' role seems to be questionable this season, but Marquez looked like a shoe-in starter at the beginning of the year. Curtin is a fan of the young center back and handed him a starting job last season after Marquez spent 2014 on-loan with the Harrisburg City Islanders.

However, Curtin seemed to insinuate that the 23-year-old had some things to work on before he gets back into the starting eleven.

Is it coachspeak? Or is Marquez behind Anderson and Tribbett in the pecking order?

"They're close, they're pushing, they're knocking on the door," said Curtin of the pair. "Richie wants to be on the field. Richie played a lot of minutes last year. He'll continue to work on things defensively. He'll continue to work on things with the ball that he can improve. But, yea, every pro wants to start. Only eleven guys get the opportunity to do it and everybody has to take advantage of their minutes. It's good to have competition. It's good to have Ray wanting to be back on the field and pushing Keegan in a good way. It needs to be said, too, that the relationships are healthy ones. It's not that guys aren't helping and supporting each other. Ray was the first guy to help Keegan this preseason. I don't want to paint a picture that it's two guys pitted against each other. They're bringing better quality out of each other. Over the course of 34 games, you're going to need both guys at each spot."