It's been nearly a month -- a span of five full matches -- since stalwart central midfielder Matt Polster has been in the lineup for the Chicago Fire, but his absence could come to an end this week.
The 23-year-old U.S. youth international has not played since Chicago's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match vs. Indy Eleven on June 15, when a clearance attempt by the opposition caught Polster square-on and resulted in a concussion and a halftime departure from the match. After progressing through the necessary protocol, Polster returned to training last week but was absent from the squad Saturday in Toronto while he regained full match fitness.
"Matt was cleared last week, we wanted to give him more time to prepare for the stretch that we have now in front," head coach Veljko Paunovic said Monday, alluding to a run of five matches in 14 days for the Men In Red. "Of course, being available 100 percent we count on him for the next games that we have, starting from the game against Sporting Kansas City (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., CSN Chicago)."
Polster has appeared in 40 MLS matches since being drafted No. 7 overall in 2015 by the Chicago Fire, starting 35 and finishing last season as an MLS Rookie of the Year finalist.