Gilberto’s return to the Fire remains in question.
The Brazilian forward, who missed the 1-1 draw against Portland due to personal issues, told general manager Nelson Rodriguez that he’s not in the right state of mind.
Rodriguez categorized Gilberto’s issues as being more personal than to any on-field struggles. Gilberto has yet to register a goal this season.
For now, the Fire have no choice but to be patient with him.
“Gilberto is a very talented player when he gets on the right side of scoring goals, he can be streaky and carry a team,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the Fire have not had discussions with Gilberto’s agent about buying out his contract. But if Gilberto continues to fail to produce, Rodriguez said the team will have to consider other options.
For now, Rodriguez is committed to keeping Gilberto in the picture.
“Our preference has always been for Gilberto to be scoring goals for our team,” Rodriguez said.
The Fire remains on the Copa America break and doesn’t return to league play until June 18 against the Colorado Rapids. In the meantime, they will host the NASL’s Indy Eleven in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match on June 15 at Toyota Park.
The Fire have a league-worst 11 points and 10 goals as they enter a stretch that coach Veljko Paunovic said will be very critical in trying to make a push toward the playoffs.
Dutch midfielder Michael De Leeuw, who is scheduled to arrive this week after receiving his visa in the Netherlands, isn’t eligible to play until July 5, which should allow the Fire enough time to better understand how — or if — Gilberto will be part of the team’s plans.
In the meantime, Paunovic must continue with business as usual.
“We’ll move on with what we have,” Paunovic said. “We have guys who can perform. We proved that during the season.”
Laney done for the year
Sky reserve guard Betnijah Laney will miss the remainder of the season after tearing her left ACL last week against the Washington Mystics. There is no timetable for her return.
Laney was averaging 5.3 minutes per game and had appeared in eight games, one of which she started. The Sky (5-5) face the Indiana Fever on Friday.