When New York City FC coach Patrick Vieira fills in the lineup card Saturday at San Jose, he will likely have David Villa available.
“David will travel with us this week,” Vieira said after the striker participated in his first full training session in two weeks.
Villa missed the last two matches with a calf injury suffered in week two against the L.A. Galaxy. NYCFC is 3-5-1 in nine matches Villa has been absent dating back to 2015.
Right back Anton Tinnerholm was also sidelined after the Galaxy match with an ankle issue. Like Villa, Tinnerholm trained from start to finish with the group and should also be accessible for Vieira.
Also on Tuesday, Alex Ring and Ronald Matarrita trained on the side. Matarrita, who was called into the Costa Rican national team but was unable to attend due to a hamstring ailment, will not travel to face the Earthquakes. Vieira was not as definitive about Ring, who injured his knee training with Finland last Wednesday. The first public prognosis regarding the strained Medial Collateral Ligament was a four-week absence from competition.
“Why not?” Vieira said when asked if Ring could play this weekend. “You never know, injured players sometimes can surprise people. We committed ourselves too early to say he’s out four weeks.”
Ghanaian Ebenezer Ofori, on loan from Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart, started his first MLS match in place of Ring at the No. 6 or holding midfield role.
“He wasn’t perfect but it’s what I was expecting,” Vieira said. “It was his first game and he wasn’t feeling well – defensively I think he helped the team a lot.”
On the attacking side, Ofori struggled to find a rhythm as a playmaker – a quality exhibited by 17-year old Homegrown product, James Sands.
“Of course I was thinking about playing him (Sands) against New England,” Vieira said. “I don’t think it was the perfect game for a young player to make his debut – the field, the physical side of the game, the experience for that position. The elements weren’t there for me to play him.”
In four matches, Sands has been in the squad twice but has yet to log a minute in 2018. His lone professional appearance came last September as a substitute for the retired Andrea Pirlo against the Colorado Rapids.