Just as regulars like Charlie Davies and Dax McCarty look primed for a return to the field Friday night against the LA Galaxy (11 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes), D.C. United received news of a setback to their starting central defender.
Dejan Jakovic, who was already expected to miss the next few weeks due to Gold Cup duty with the Canadian national team, picked up a hamstring injury in Canada’s 2-2 friendly draw against Ecuador on Wednesday, leaving his status for the tournament unclear.
As of late Thursday, Olsen hadn’t received any new updates.
“He’s going to be evaluated by their doctors and get some scans to show the severity of the injury,” Olsen told MLSsoccer.com. “And then they’ll make the decision, hopefully with our training staff, on what’s the best course of action both for Canada and DC.”
Despite having nine players listed on the latest injury report this week, including long-term layoffs for Branko Boskovic (ACL surgery), Junior Carreiro (ankle injury) and Devon McTavish (concussion), the team has received some positive news on the recovery front for a change.
Reserve midfielder Kurt Morsink traveled with the team for the road trip out west, and is nearing a return from an ankle injury.
Right back Jed Zayner, who has been hampered by a hamstring injury he picked up in the first game of the season against the Columbus Crew, didn’t travel but is nearing a return.
“Jed, from what I hear is ready to go, so Monday he’s back and fully training,” Olsen said.
Midfielder Santino Quaranta, who also missed the trip to LA after colliding with Perry Kitchen in training, is still battling some lingering concussion problems.
“Tino’s getting better, but he’s still dealing with some side effects from the head injury,” Olsen said. “He should be back in training very soon.”
Olsen vs. Arena
Coaching against the LA Galaxy carries a little bit extra significance for DC coach Ben Olsen, as it matches him up against Bruce Arena, who has played a significant role in Olsen’s playing career.
“It’s certainly always a little more special when I face off against him,” he said. “I’m sure it’s more special for me than him to coach against me.”
Arena was Olsen’s head coach at three separate stops during the latter’s playing career. Together they won national championships at the University of Virginia, an MLS Cup at DC United, and participated in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
“I have a lot of respect for him, what he’s done here and what he’s done for me in my career,” Olsen said. “[But] once the game starts, it’s not a real factor.”
This meeting marks the third time that mentor and pupil will meet in league play, with Arena yet to lose.
When DC take the field on Friday night they’ll be wearing a new third kit for the first time in club history – an all-red ensemble introduced during the offseason.
Of course for Olsen, the color jerseys they wear mean little. He only realized on Thursday that they would be donning the red kits.
“I didn’t even know that till this morning, so it hasn’t been on my mind,” he said. “I don’t even know if the guys know, to be honest. Maybe it’ll be good luck for us.”
United is scheduled to wear the third kit on three other occasions: July 2 at home against Philadelphia; July 23 in a friendly against Everton; and Aug. 21 at Sporting KC’s new stadium, Livestrong Sporting Park.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark