United braced for life without Boskovic

WASHINGTON — Just as D.C. United midfielder Branko Boskovic was finding his feet in MLS, a torn ACL appears to have ended his season.

Boskovic, scheduled for surgery on his knee this Thursday, joins a growing list of attackers forced to the sidelines because of serious injuries just two months into the MLS season.

According to head coach Chad Ashton, four to six months of recovery time is typically the norm for ACL tears. As a result, the team has to proceed assuming Boskovic won’t be available for the rest of the season.

“We have to proceed and figure out what we want to do with regards to our team and how we want to add pieces in the summer,” he said after Tuesday’s training session, “but we have to assume he’s not even an option until next year.”

While not officially done for the year, if Boskovic was able to recover quickly, a late return in September or October would be a best case scenario — and one DC can’t bank on at the moment. Teammates acknowledged that his absence would be felt over the course of a long season.

“He’ll be missed a lot, and as you move through a season, you need all your guys, but you certainly need those type of guys that know how to make plays around the goal,” forward Josh Wolff said. “He was really starting to come into his own.”

After a slow start to his 2011 campaign with United, the Montenegrin put in two lively performances — the first in the second half of DC’s 4-0 loss against New York on April 21, where he hit the woodwork twice.

He followed that up with a two-goal game against the New England Revolution on April 26 in US Open Cup play. But in the dying minutes of that game, he had to come off after a challenge from behind by Revolution forward Alan Koger that caused the injury.

It’s a blow to a DC team that showed signs of life against Seattle Sounders FC and FC Dallas last week. One thing missing, particularly against Dallas in a 0-0 draw, was a creative spark in the center of midfield that a player like Boskovic could provide.

United now join the likes of Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders in having to reshuffle and cope with the absence of an attacking talent.

“You can see it’s happening through the league right now, with some big players on good teams,” Ashton said. “You have to deal with it, it’s a part of it, and that bad luck is never fun to deal with. It just means other people have to step up and we need to be able to cover for him.”