The injury corner at FC Tampa Bay practices has seen substantially more action this week. While the team trains at the Shimberg Complex in Tampa, a small section to the side of the practice fields is devoted to rehabbing injuries with head trainer James Faylo.
Since the beginning of the regular season, that corner has been occupied by Jeremy Christie (hip) and Yendry Diaz (knee). Goalkeeper Daryl Sattler joined the group after tearing his ACL against Atlanta, and defender Andres Arango has been a regular visitor after injuring, then reinjuring his right ankle in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, Arango sat on a folding chair with an ice pack wrapped around his right leg (thigh contusion). He was hurt in Saturday's 3-0 win over Montreal to add to his list of injury woes and was substituted in the 35th minute.
Also picking up injuries in the Montreal victory were forward Warren Ukah and defender Omar Jarun. Ukah, who scored Tampa Bay's opening goal with a confident strike from the 18 in the 40th minute, injured his knee soon after and didn't return after halftime. He might have torn a ligament as well, though the extent of the damage won't be known until the results of an MRI exam come back this week.
"The signs are looking positive, but we can't predict at this moment in time," coach Ricky Hill said.
Jarun also injured a knee against Montreal though Hill was hopeful the 6-foot-5 defender will be fit for training today.
All three players are day to day and haven't been ruled out for Saturday's game at Minnesota.
Kickin' it with | M Keith Savage
Last year you played for Portland as the team was preparing to make the jump to MLS the next season. What was that season like?
It was fun but it was kind of annoying in a way. There was so much pressure on the coaches and after every game, win or lose; it was, 'You're going into MLS next year, you're going into MLS next year' and it was just kind of annoying. It's nice to be here and just be able to play and not worry about new kids coming in and big signings. You can just kind of play and the coaches trust us, not wanting to worry about guys for next year.
What's on your soccer bucket list?
That's hard. As a career, I've always wanted to play in Houston in MLS just because it's nearby and I've always had tons of respect for (Dynamo coach) Dominic Kinnear. Besides that I've always wanted to go visit the Turks and Caicos Islands, me and my wife, maybe do some scuba diving down there. That's a good one to check off the list.
Favorite soccer moment?
When I was drafted, I got to start in SuperClasico, Chivas USA vs. L.A. Galaxy with (David) Beckham and (Landon) Donovan in a sold-out Home Depot Center. … Beckham had just kind of got there, and there were 35,000 people there. It was incredible. It might have been my third professional game. I was a rookie, so it was pretty fun.
Out of the box
One possible explanation for Tampa Bay's three-goal explosion against Montreal: a new formation. Hill said Tampa Bay employed a 4-3-1-2 formation for the first time this season, abandoning the 4-4-2 it had played through the first six games.
"I felt with the system that we had as we were playing it, we became a little bit static and predictable," Hill said.
The team used the 4-3-1-2 during the preseason in a scrimmage with the U17 men's national team, and Hill continued to teach principles of the formation.
"I think we've been threatening to score more than one all season in every game that we've played, we just haven't been able to execute," Hill said. " … With the (4-3-1-2) formation, what it allowed us to do differently to what we had been doing was that we were patient enough with the ball and worked the ball into areas. … Then our fullbacks were able to join in gradually after we'd kept possession for a period of time."
Hill said Saturday's result coupled with the players' comfort level with the new system makes it likely the team will continue playing the 4-3-1-2.