DC Notebook: Davies, DeRo rested for Portland match

Dwayne De Rosario

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In Sunday's 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City, two names were surprisingly absent from the D.C. United starting lineup.

Charlie Davies didn’t make the 18 and Dwayne De Rosario was on the bench during Sunday night’s crucial matchup as head coach Olsen was looking to keep the pair fresh for the stretch run — although De Rosario came on at halftime and played 45 minutes.

“He’s not 22 anymore,” Olsen said of De Rosario after Sunday’s game. “He’s been putting us on his back for a couple weeks and I wanted to be smart with him, and I think he did a good job in the second half when he came in.”

Since coming to DC in June, De Rosario has played significant minutes. In the eight games prior to Sunday, he’s been on the field for all but six possible minutes, hence the need for rest.

Davies, who has battled nagging injuries throughout his return to playing soccer on a full-time basis, was left out of the 18 altogether. He’s had knee and hamstring issues but was given a chance to rest ahead of DC’s home game against the Portland Timbers this Saturday.

Willis gets second start

WATCH: Kamara beats Willis
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With starting goalkeeper Bill Hamid sidelined with a hamstring injury picked up against the Chicago Fire, rookie Joe Willis earned his second-ever MLS start in Sunday’s losing effort.

A little more than a week after an impressive debut in DC’s 4-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps, the third-round draft pick once again earned the nod with Steve Cronin on the bench.

He felt much more at ease before his second pro game.

“After the first [game], I got the nerves out of my system and had a lot of confidence going into this game and it felt good,” Willis said.

The 23-year-old admitted that there was little he could do about Kei Kamara’s first-half goal, a blistering strike from just outside the top of the box.

“He hit it well,” Willis said. “I’d like to watch video of it and see how my positioning was, but it was a good shot.”

Aside from that, Willis was in good form on the night, making a couple of saves to keep the deficit at 1-0, including a second-half shot from Graham Zusi. A native of St. Louis, Willis said that a number of friends and relatives made the more than four-hour drive to watch him play his second game in MLS.

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.