Minnesota United manager Adrian Heath has played down fears regarding the fitness of Emanuel Reynoso and Osvaldo Alonso.
The midfield duo missed the Loons’ 3-1 defeat away at DC United on Wednesday. Reynoso only recently returned from a month-long layoff with a hamstring injury and was withdrawn in the 70th minute of Minnesota’s 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo last weekend as a precaution.
Alonso, meanwhile, played a full 90 minutes five times between 21st August and 26th September, clocking up a large number of minutes for a 35-year-old.
Heath believes a match-up against a team in the opposite conference was the perfect time to rest the midfielders while revealing their absences were merely precautionary.
“They’ve both got a couple of niggles,” Heath told reporters at Audi Field. “Obviously, Ozzie [Alosno] has played a lot of football of late. I want to make sure that Rey [Emanuel Reynoso] is 100 per cent. So, rather than have him play with little niggles that he’s got at this moment in time, we thought, you know, Eastern Conference team, we thought, if we’re going to do it, it would be a good time to rest.”
Though Heath highlighted the DC game as the ideal opportunity to rest tired legs, he did admit his side missed Alonso’s presence through the middle.
“He’s a quality footballer. He’s been one of the best in his position for the last 10, 12 years in the league,” he said. “So, [we] missed his experience tonight. Maybe his calmness at times.
“I thought we got caught up in the game. We spoke about it before the game that they’re going to play high energy. Everybody knows that. They get the ball forward, they get the second balls and then they play from there. Make good runs forward. So, they’re a difficult team to play against. They’re doing well. And, I think they’ll make the playoffs and they’ll be a difficult team to play. Especially here.”
Despite the defeat, Minnesota still occupy the final Western Conference playoff spot, sitting three points clear of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Next up for the Loons is a trip to FC Dallas on Saturday.