DC's McDonald keeps working hard despite suspension

WASHINGTON – D.C. United defender Brandon McDonald became one of the first players suspended ex post facto by MLS this week after committing a rough tackle against FC Dallas striker Blas Pérez last Friday.

The suspension, which rules McDonald out of United’s game against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), comes as part of the league’s continued efforts to crack down on poor challenges. And while the defender isn’t necessarily pleased by the decision, he accepts it.

“I wasn’t too thrilled about the suspension,” McDonald told MLSsoccer.com. “At the same time, it’s their rules and I’ve got to abide by them, just like everybody else does.”

WATCH: McDonald clears out Perez

McDonald picked up a yellow card in the 20th minute after flying into a tackle from behind on Pérez. On Tuesday, the 26-year-old center back learned that he had earned an additional one-game ban for his troubles.

McDonald further hinted that it might have some effect on his game, as he looks to avoid similar suspensions in the future.

“It’s something that I will have to deal with,” he said. “Obviously, I’m not happy about it, but it is what it is.”

Despite being suspended, McDonald hasn’t slacked off this week, looking instead to help his teammates prepare for a tough match against the Sounders. At practice on Thursday, McDonald took part in an exercise that tested the cohesiveness of the United back line, and was quick to give out pointers to Dejan Jakovic and Emiliano Dudar, who figure to feature at center back against Seattle.

“To be honest, I’ve been going a lot harder,” McDonald said. “I try to keep the guys on their toes, and keep them hungry and fighting during training.”

Since his move from the San Jose Earthquakes last fall, McDonald has quickly taken over the vacant role of team leader, something that United had been searching for since current head coach Ben Olsen ended his playing career. McDonald has excelled in that role for D.C., but didn’t let his suspension stop him continuing that this week.

“Once I got the news and I talked to Benny [Olsen], they told me to just keep on being vocal and keep on being strong for the guys,” McDonald said.

The forced change to United’s backline comes just as they were seemed to be finding a rhythm as a defensive unit. After conceding four goals in the first two games against Sporting Kansas City and the LA Galaxy, the defense limited opponents to one goal in their next two games, as the team earned four points from the Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Dallas.