Trib­bett fac­ing an­other Toronto test

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Matthew DeGe­orge mde­ge­orge@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @sports­doc­tormd on Twit­ter

CH­ESTER >> With a lit­tle re­luc­tance, Ken Trib­bett nav­i­gates into a con­ver­sa­tion about his last meet­ing with Toronto.

That af­fair was a roller coaster con­densed into 45 min­utes on the field, fea­tur­ing a goal scored and three al­lowed to a ram­pag­ing Toronto at­tack, one that shelled the Union de­fense so lustily that Trib­bett was with­drawn at half­time.

If Trib­bett de­rived any les­son from that dif­fi­cult af­ter­noon, one of the low points of a solid rookie sea­son, it’s the need to learn and leave be­hind the past.

“Ob­vi­ously it wasn’t my best per­for­mance,” Trib­bett said Wed­nes­day. “I’m grate­ful to have the op­por­tu­nity to play well against them.”

A red card last week to Josh

Yaro, with whom Trib­bett has pla­tooned at the right­cen­ter back po­si­tion all sea­son, thrusts Trib­bett into the crosshairs for the Philadel­phia Union’s voy­age to Toronto this week. Given the re­sult of his last en­counter with the East­ern Con­fer­ence lead­ers, re­demp­tion is an apt ob­jec­tive.

“Ken’s a guy we’ve leaned on heav­ily this year,” man­ager Jim Curtin said. “He’s had a lot of good games for us. No se­cret, the Toronto game was a dif­fi­cult one for him. A lot of the in­stances where we gave up chances last time against Toronto were ac­tu­ally off of balls in our at­tack­ing half of the field that were turned over quickly or there was a sec­ond ball that went bounc­ing and we fell asleep for a split sec­ond. I think Ken learned from that game.”

The cere­bral Trib­bett has taken the Toronto stum­ble in stride. He’s only played one of five games since — when Yaro re­turned to his na­tive Ghana for the burial of his mother — but the Drexel grad has treated it like many other learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in his first MLS cam­paign.

That this par­tic­u­lar tu­to­rial was meted out by two of the most lethal for­wards

in MLS — the Euro­pean­ex­pe­ri­enced Jozy Alti­dore and rein­ing MVP Sebastian Giovinco — makes it more re­sound­ing. Alti­dore has rounded into form with eight goals in nine games since a mid­sea­son leg in­jury and, with Giovinco hav­ing missed the last two games with a leg strain, the Amer­i­can fig­ures to be the prime tar­get of Trib­bett’s de­fen­sive en­er­gies Satur­day.

“When you play against a big strong guy, you’re sup­posed to maybe stay off, don’t wres­tle with him so much,” Trib­bett said of Alti­dore. “So I’ve learned that. If I can’t go and win the ball right away, then maybe just take a step back and watch the ball in­stead of get­ting into a wrestling match.”

Within the Union’s ranks, Satur­day is an­other chance for Trib­bett to edge ahead of Yaro in the back-and­forth com­pe­ti­tion for play­ing time. Curtin isn’t a big squad ro­ta­tor, par­tic­u­larly on the back­line. So Yaro’s red in Port­land last week, which fea­tured a soft first yel­low card that Curtin de­cried Wed­nes­day, is a chance for Trib­bett to reestab­lish a place in the lineup for the fi­nal four games of the reg­u­lar sea­son. Yaro is also deal­ing with a con­cus­sion, go­ing through the league’s pro­to­col this week.

“Both of us are true com­peti­tors,” Trib­bett said. “We both want to play, and in

train­ing every day, we’re work­ing hard to earn our spot.”

••• With Yaro, Tran­quillo Bar­netta was the Union’s other prac­tice ab­sen­tee Wed­nes­day thanks to swelling from a knee-to-knee col­li­sion in Port­land. Curtin said he’ll have the knee looked at, but “I don’t ex­pect him to miss the week­end.”

Mau­rice Edu is in the se­lec­tion pic­ture for the Toronto trip after play­ing each of the last three weeks with Beth­le­hem Steel. Curtin, how­ever, doesn’t see Edu as cover for the thin cen­tral de­fense corps this week un­less of a se­ri­ous emer­gency.

••• New sign­ing Kevin Kratz isn’t with the Union this week while he se­cures his visa, but he did train last week. Curtin saw the chance to grab the 29-yearold Ger­man to add ros­ter depth with some in­jury un­cer­tain­ties in mid­field and prizes his ver­sa­til­ity in play­ing sev­eral dif­fer­ent po­si­tions.

“He’s more of a thinker,” Curtin said. “He’s in­tel­li­gent. He’s not a guy who’s 6-foot-4 and a bruiser and a tack­ler, he kind of does it by read­ing the game. Good feet, com­fort­able on the ball and again that de­ci­sion mak­ing is what we like the best with him.”

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