ORANGEBURG, N.Y. — Shorthanded due to international call-ups and injuries, New York City FC relied on its depth to navigate through its first two U.S. Open Cup wins in club history.
It will need to do that again Saturday night when the team returns to MLS play from the Gold Cup break to take on the Philadelphia Union at Yankee Stadium.
While Ebenezer Ofori returned to training this week, NYCFC still is without Sean Johnson, Ronald Matarrita and Alexander Callens to national team duty and Héber, James Sands and Tony Rocha to injury.
That means the likelihood of just 15 field players on the 18-man gameday roster Saturday.
Of the players on the mend, Sands is the closest to returning after suffering a broken arm in the club’s last league game — a 5-2 home win over FC Cincinnati. The 18-year-old Homegrown wore a soft cast and trained without restriction Wednesday.
Torrent is targeting the home match against the Seattle Sounders on July 3 for Sands’ possible return.
As for Héber and Rocha, who both suffered hamstring injuries, Torrent said they’d likely need another two weeks, which would take them right up to the first Hudson River Derby match of the season on July 14. Neither trained with the team on Wednesday.
Likely filling in for Héber, who has six goals and three assists in 10 appearances, is Taty Castellanos, who Torrent praised for being in “top, top form.” Keaton Parks also impressed in a pair of USOC starts and could be in line for additional minutes this weekend.
“I say many times to the players you have to be ready because you never know what will happen, but sometimes in one minute your teammate is injured or you play much better than your teammate and I decide to play with you,” Torrent said. “That’s why it’s important that everyone is involved right now with this team.”
NYCFC’s league-best 10-match unbeaten streak is on the line with a busy stretch that includes league games at home against Philadelphia (Saturday), Seattle (July 3), Portland (July 7), a USOC quarterfinal match at Orlando (July 10) and an MLS date at the Red Bulls (July 14).
“The team right now is in top form,” Torrent said. “We will try to play with the same rhythm, but it’s not easy. … It’s almost impossible to keep the same rhythm with seven games in 25 days.”