Manny Perez was mysteriously missing from the North Carolina FC squad against Hartford Athletic yesterday.
Perez has played in every game for North Carolina this season as their number one right-back. The Celtic man, signed back in January before being farmed out to the USL side, has had a fantastic time back in his homeland so far. Notching two assists and 12 appearances, his team are now up to seventh and just three points behind second place.
But, for the first time this season, Perez was absent from a match-day squad for North Carolina during yesterday’s 1-1 draw against Hartford. Instead, DJ Taylor (yup, I know) took his place in the team.
What makes it all the more mysterious is that Perez was hooked at half-time against Florida Soccer Soldiers just days previously in the US Open Cup. There weren’t any signs of an injury, and no signs of fatigue either as he failed to come out for the second-half.
And in an incredibly unfortunate turn of events, Taylor actually scored the winner two minutes after Perez was hooked. Taylor wasn’t the player subbed on for Perez, but he did take his place days later against Hartford. His replacement against Florida, Steven Miller, did set up that Taylor goal however.
North Carolina haven’t opened up on their official sources regarding what’s wrong with Perez. It’s not been reported as to whether he’s picked up a knock or just been nudged out of the team.
Hopefully a short-term setback
Perez could do with keeping his place in that North Carolina side. It’s been going well for him so far, as he’s been a key part of a successful side this term. Therefore, being dropped so abruptly would be a bit of a surprise.
The fact he wasn’t even part of the match-day squad against Hartford yesterday suggests that’s all it is. It would be ideal, however, if North Carolina could reveal why he’s been omitted.
The USL side have been in fine form, and have lost just one of their last nine matches. Right-back Perez has been a big part of that with his link-up play down the right side too.
Perez will also be itching to get back into the starting line-up for the US Open Cup fourth-round too. North Carolina take the trip to New York to face New York City on June 13th. For Perez, it would be the ideal opportunity to show what he’s worth against quality MLS attackers such as Alexandru Mitrita and Maximiliano Moralez.
But firstly he needs to get back into the side. Hopefully, this is nothing more than a slight knock, but no official confirmation has been forthcoming. This is worth keeping an eye on in the coming days.