Hamid, the MLS leader in goals against average, missed last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes with a “flare-up” from last month’s surgery on his right knee. Espindola, the club’s most influential attacker, has missed three league matches with a sprained left knee.
Olsen said “both trained and, as of now, are good to go” with the traveling delegation to Harrison, N.J., for the third meeting between first-place United (44 points) and the second-place Red Bulls (39).
After Sunday, United is off for two weeks. However, Olsen believes the players have recovered sufficiently and don’t need the extended break. If, for example, Espindola were to sit out the Red Bulls game, he would have not played a competitive match for six weeks.
One possible scenario: Hamid starts and Espindola comes off the bench.
Meantime, reserve midfielder Jared Jeffrey is sidelined with a sprained ankle suffered in the second half Tuesday against Montego Bay in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Alvaro Saborio, United’s Costa Rican forward, will face the Red Bulls before reporting to the national team for friendlies against Brazil next Saturday at Red Bull Arena and Sept. 8 vs. Uruguay in San Jose, Costa Rica. “That’s the plan,” Olsen said.
Midfielder-defender Markus Halsti is set to join the Finnish national team ahead of Euro 2016 qualifiers at Greece next Friday and home against the Faroe Islands on Sept. 7. With four matches left, Finland is fifth out of six teams in Group F with a 1-4-1 record and four points.
Small World Dept.: The new Finland coach, effective Jan. 1, is Sweden’s Hans Backe, a former Red Bulls boss. Backe was a TV analyst in Sweden and saw Halsti play regularly with Malmo, his club prior to joining United. When DCU targeted him for signing, Olsen reached out to Backe for insight and observations.
“He knew him through and through,” Olsen said, “and gave him rave reviews.”
Olsen said he and Backe have not spoken since the latter accepted the Finland job, but as Halsti’s national team role is defined next year, “there will be communication, for sure,” with Olsen and General Manager Dave Kasper. “We just haven’t connected yet.”
No United players were selected for U.S. friendlies against Peru next Friday at RFK Stadium and Brazil on Sept. 8 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Olsen said. Hamid was the only realistic possibility. About 25,000 tickets have been sold for the Peru match.
Defender Jalen Robinson, midfielder Collin Martin and goalkeeper Travis Worra will join the Richmond Kickers for Saturday’s home match against the Charleston Battery.