“When one door closes, another one opens.”
Adrian Heath may not have been the first one to utter these words, but he certainly believes there is a truth to them.
His team offers the perfect example. As the summer international schedule gets underway, several Lions are being called up to compete for their national teams, and the voids left behind require filling.
Starting midfielders Brek Shea and Darwin Cerén will be competing for the United States and El Salvador, respectively, creating an opportunity for other players to showcase their talent in the left midfield and defensive midfield positions.
Heath offered a glimpse on Saturday into how he plans to replace Shea, who was unavailable due to a red card suspension, by using Carlos Rivas at left mid. It was Rivas’ third start and tenth appearance for City as he registered six shots, including one that rang off the crossbar.
Cerén’s replacement remains more of a mystery, however. Cerén has played a full 90 minutes in all but two games this season and hasn’t missed a minute since March 28th. His partner in the defensive midfield, Cristian Higuita has “locked down” his spot in the starting XI, according to Heath, so just one remains for Amobi Okugo or another Lion. Okugo made his last start on May 8th against New England but had started every game of the season prior to that.
Striker Cyle Larin also received the call and will play for Canada in their upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Dominica. Larin will be available for Saturday’s contest in Chicago before he heads off. The rookie has made eight starts and scored four goals in MLS play.
Larin’s absence leaves the door open for the recently recuperated Pedro Ribeiro, who turns 25 later this month. Ribeiro came on in relief of Larin against Columbus and scored an 89th minute equalizer, his second of the season.
No one was surprised to have so many international call-ups; they’ve been looming on the schedule since the roster was assembled. Having players out of the lineup isn’t new to Heath, who’s had to deal with countless injuries to starters, forcing him to play younger players in their place. The silver lining in that is that it has given those youngsters invaluable MLS experience, which will finally be paying off.