The Fire were without two key attackers in Michael de Leeuw and John Goossens against DC United last weekend. Veljko Paunovic addressed their injuries during his weekly conference call on Monday afternoon. Goossens' back injury will keep him out against New York City FC on Friday but de Leeuw could be back from an ankle injury. They could also have Alex Morrell available after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Here are the call highlights:
Paunovic on the injury updates
"De Leeuw is feeling better. He was able to train apart from the group but had training on the field. He touched the ball and it looked like there is less pain. It's not that painful but he still needs to work in his recovery. We'll see on a daily basis how it goes through the week."
"Goossens is still doing his treatments inside with the medical staff. For sure, he's not going to be ready for this (next) game. We'll see his progress in the coming weeks. We have (Alex) Morrell, who was on loan at Saint Louis where he got an injury, he's recovering well. He was able to train today with the group (for) the first part and then the part that was more intense, he worked aside with the athletic trainer. We believe after the procedure of coming back to the field that he will be ready. Probably this week he will be full-go."
On looking forward to the next game
"We started the week today with training (Monday) morning. It went very good. We believe that the guys are recovered from the disappointing draw in our last game against Toronto. We are looking ahead to our next game and our next opponent, New York City FC very cheerfully. Of course, it's not that we are happy where we are but we are getting ready for the game. As we've said, it's one game at a time. That's how we'll proceed with this one too."
On whether or not he was surprised that the last 3 game home stand wasn't more successful
"I'm not surprised. In this league it's very difficult to earn points. I think that that this year, we've always fought very hard for that. We know that in every game we can win, we can tie, we can lose (but) we always give our best in order to win but we also know that it's not easy. I'm not surprised but I am a little bit disappointed that we didn't get more from these three games after a good, enthusiastic month behind us in games that we played - like the game against Montreal on the road. From that standpoint but like I always say, and I'll repeat it again - you only have one day either to celebrate or cry out the disappointment and then you've got the next day. That day after the game, if you want to celebrate or feel a little bit more relaxed or the other way, but the thing is that the next day you have to prepare and get ready for the next game and do everything possible and best prepare all you can in order to win again. What I'm trying to say is that all of that is behind us and we are just looking forward. Today we trained well. The guys are recovered and we have guys that are coming back from recovery, which is also a positive thing. We always look with enthusiasm and excitement to our next game and that's what we're doing now."
On the upcoming three game road trip
"One game at a time. Right now there is where we stand. I think we're recovered from the last game and our next objective is to win against New York City FC, a very good team. They're a team that is fighting for the first spot in our conference. They're doing very good this season but we know that everyone is this league is beatable and we'll prepare to win the game.
On David Arshakyan's first start
"David is adjusting to our league. David is doing well with that. It's a process for him and he needs time to adjust. It's not that easy to come to a new country with a new locker room and new teammates, new coaches. He was doing very good. For this game, we had different plans for him but as we had injured players you can't schedule opportunities. We believed it was the time to give him the opportunity to play (although) we didn't think that he was one-hundred percent ready. I think he did very good. He adjusted very well. The first start was for him difficult but he adjusted very well and then he ended up playing more comfortable on the ball and even more dangerous. He had a couple of opportunities where he almost scored a goal. What we expect from him is to keep working hard, keep adjusting and improving in all aspects of the game, which we believe that he can still do. From the standpoint if he's going to play, he's probably going to be one of our guys who we trust and believe can give us opportunities in order to win."
"Every game is different. Even if you play against a team that you've already played a couple of times this year. You're watching almost every game they play. Every game is different from the standpoint of who may play and who may not. Form and the load of the league, the load of the matches behind in the season all matter. When you put it all together, the most important thing is going to be who recovers well for this game and who prepares better and then from the standpoint of quality, they are a very good team. They're in a very good spot in the league. It's going to be tough. They have very important and very good players. Experienced guys playing together a long time for a couple of seasons. The momentum they are (in) is actually very good. Against all these adversities, we have to work and prepare and then perform. I believe we will do that. I believe we can win the game on the road again. I believe in the next game it's going to happen."
On Matt Polster's selection to the 24 Under 24 list
"I think it's great news. All the credit to Matt that he developed and performed very good this season so that he was selected for such an important matter. I think for us a club, and a team that is building, having a lot of young players playing on the roster is something that is encouraging. We believe that it's important also for the staff to keep working and improving all of our guys. We believe that in the future we can have even more players selected. It's a great thing.
On whether Rodrigo Ramos will play again for the Fire
"I've answered this question many times. My opinion about it hasn't changed. It's a logical thing. When somebody is playing, somebody (else) is not playing. We can't have everyone playing so that means that somebody is doing good. That's what we were looking for the whole season. To have a competitive roster where everyone is pushing hard. When somebody has the opportunity to play every single game, he has to appreciate and do the best so that he can keep it. The other guys have to push hard to earn it again. That's the mindset that we need and that's how we work.
"Of course it's possible. It's up to him and it's up to the other guys fighting for the spot and of course the needs of the team."