How have injuries derailed DC United's season? Ben Olsen says entire club must evaluate methods
WASHINGTON – Of all the things that have led to D.C. United’s disappointing season – which has the club sitting at a league worst 3-16-4 entering Saturday’s match against Montreal (7 pm ET, TSN2/RDS in Canada, watch on MLS Live in the US) – it is perhaps the injuries that have provided the most frustration.
The season has lent itself to a proverbial endless line of ailments. From extended absences because of major surgeries to minor aches and pains to nagging, reoccurring injuries, United’s players have run the gamut.
“We have to really look at ourselves,” United coach Ben Olsen said of the rash of injuries that have marred 2013. “I have to look at my training methods and our training staff, medical staff, our fitness and preparation staff. We’re all a part of this and we have to get it right."
“And the players are a part of this, too. The way they take care of themselves off the field as well. There’s all these variables that go into this and I think we’re very committed right now to figuring out ways to keep us as healthy as possible because it definitely hurt us this year.”
Ahead of Saturday’s match against the Impact, a side D.C. beat two weeks ago at RFK Stadium, nine players are on United’s injury report. Luis Silva is working off the effects of a mild concussion and is listed as questionable along with Lewis Neal and Carlos Ruiz while Pontius, Sainey Nyassi, Lionard Pajoy, Taylor Kemp, Marcelo Saragosa and Casey Townsend all are out.
The injuries have forced Olsen to play his young, inexperienced players, ultimately resulting in the club fielding its youngest starting XI in team history in last week’s 2-0 loss against Philadelphia. And while a timely reinforcement at left back is available for selection Saturday – former Impact defender Dennis Iapichino – United will once again be far from full strength.
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“Usually you go through patches [of injuries]. We seem to continuously have kind of a revolving door of guys coming in and out,” Olsen said.
Ultimately, Olsen is likely hoping his top players are healed by October 1, the most important date remaining on D.C.’s calendar: the US Open Cup final against Real Salt Lake.
“We can certainly rest guys easier now than if we were in a playoff race,” Olsen said. “But we still want to get these guys out there. We still need to build rhythm and get better. I think we’ll be OK. I hope for the rest of the summer and fall we continue to get our numbers right and find the rhythm that will help us through the finals.”