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May 03, 2016

Union notes: More from Maurice, Copa comments and veteran ball shagging

Soccer Union
050316_sapong_PSP Daniel Gajdamowicz/Philly Soccer Page

Union forward C.J. Sapong was left off the preliminary roster for the Copa America Centenario.

There wasn't much to report from Tuesday's training session, but one thing did stand out.

Injured midfielder Maurice Edu looked active on the sidelines, passing the ball back and forth with goalkeepers Andre Blake and John McCarthy. It may not sound like much, but the Union captain has been out for almost eight months now, and this is the most action we've seen him perform during his stress fracture recovery.

In recent weeks, Edu had been present at training but restricted to a stationary bike that was dragged outside to the practice fields. He'd been spotted wearing a walking boot in and around Talen Energy Stadium. Now, it appears as though he can take the next step forward in his rehabilitation.

The Union don't play again until next Wednesday, so Tuesday's session combined Bethlehem Steel players and some academy kids with the senior team roster. On a typical day, Steel trains after the Union finish their morning session, but this week there will be some mixing and matching to give the coaches a chance to see the players in some different scenarios, playing with some different teammates.

Trials and Tribbett-ulations

The only other player on the injury list with Edu is center back Ken Tribbett.

Manager Jim Curtin told reporters that Tribbett is "doing better" with the ankle injury that's kept him out of the last three games. Curtin explained that Tribbett is alright when cutting and jumping, but it's the locking of the ankle on a long pass that results in discomfort.

Rookie Josh Yaro has started in Tribbett's place since the Seattle game, but Curtin doesn't have a number one on the depth chart at the RCB spot.

"Right now it's still to be determined," Curtin said. "I think Josh has come in for these three games and done really well. I spoke with him again (Tuesday) about the life of a center back. You can have a really strong 89 minutes, then if you mis-clear one or lose your man on a free kick, that's what everyone remembers. What they don't remember is if he puts that ball in the 20th row, no one talks about Josh, 'he doesn't play out of the back', or anything like that. Everyone just forgets about it. But they do remember when you have one of those where you mis-clear it a little bit. Listen, there were five other things that happened on the (San Jose goal) where other guys could have bailed him out. We literally had nine guys in the box that could have made a play. It's a little bit of a fluky one, Simon Dawkins makes a great cut and a great move on the goal, but we should prevent that."

Sapong misses out

Union forward C.J. Sapong was not included on the 40-man, preliminary Copa America Centenario roster.

It shouldn't come as the biggest surprise. This is an important stretch for the USMNT, with World Cup qualifiers looming after the summer tournament. Jurgen Klinsmann's forward selections were mostly typical, with Jozy Altidore, Gyasi Zardes, and Bobby Wood on the list.

"You want your players to play for the national team," said Curtin of Sapong. "That's the highest honor that there is. You know, a 40-man roster is a big roster, but again, it's not for me to select. I think CJ is playing as well as any forward in our league right now and I hope he keeps that going. If he does continue to produce and perform, then I think his national team callup will come eventually. It didn't come this time around, but he'll continue to work hard and do all of the right things. If that's something that happens, then great. Individual accolades come when the team has success. I think that's the biggest thing for all of us to recognize. We'll all continue to keep working hard and hopefully, those things will sort themselves out down the road."

You hit it, you retrieve it?

Veteran Brian Carroll was honored pregame Saturday for making his 350th all-time appearance in Major League Soccer.

Always the professional, however, Carroll was spotted collecting wayward balls that went over the fence during Tuesday morning's session.