Midfielder Dwayne De Rosario was understandably absent from D.C. United’s 2-1 Wednesday night defeat at the hands of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Canadian international played the night before for the Canadian national team in Toronto in a World Cup qualifier, creating an impossible amount of travel to play two games in two days.
But United head coach Ben Olsen wouldn’t lean on that as an excuse.
“Dwayne is a big part of what we are doing, but he played 90 minutes Tuesday,” he said after the game. “I wasn’t about to fly him across the country to risk any injury with him. Would I have liked to seen him out there? Of course, but we had the guys to do the job tonight, that has nothing to do with it. We had the manpower to get a good result and I thought our mentality was good leading up, but switched off early, two plays, and again it’s very, very disappointing.”
D.C.’s offense did appear to miss De Rosario’s scoring touch and offensive panache up front. However, with three more games to go, starting this Saturday against the Chicago Fire, the coaching staff decided it was best to let him rest and meet up with the team in Washington.
“Dwayne has played a lot of soccer this year,” Olsen said. “When some have had breaks, he has gone off to international duty, so I want him fresh for next weekend and we are going to grind him out for our next three home games that’s for sure.”
Playoffs remain within reach
While the loss may have reduced D.C.’s margin for error, it sets the table for a three-game home stand with all to play for.
Still five points out of a final playoff spot, United have played fewer games than both the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo, who they trail in the standings, and the same amount as the Portland Timbers, who they play on Oct. 19.
Regardless of games in hand, D.C. must now win the final three games in order to have the best chance at qualifying for the playoffs.
“It’s pretty clear now what we have to do, so there’s a positive,” Olsen said. “If you think three games is a positive, but why not? We’re going home, were playing teams that are certainly beatable and it’s a big task but it’s one we can certainly do, [but] not if we give up goals in the first minute of each half.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.