WASHINGTON – Despite his imposing size and his presence at the heart of D.C. United’s central defense, it’s easy to lose sight of Brandon McDonald.
That tends to happen when players deliver the remarkable consistency the 6-foot-1 McDonald has this season.
With another 90-minute effort in D.C.’s 3-2 victory against Columbus last weekend, McDonald set the club record for most minutes played in a single season with 2,873, breaking Jeff Agoos’ mark of 2,805 set in 1996.
“I’m not really, knock on wood, an injury-prone guy,” McDonald said. “From diet, proper sleep and trying to take care of your body, I’ve been doing it five or six years and you kind of look at the guys who have been here for a while. You try to learn from them.”
In 2012, McDonald has played in and started 32 matches – tops on the team – and came off the field only once this season, for seven minutes against Real Salt Lake last month. It’s an effort that isn’t lost on D.C.’s coach.
“His durability’s been unbelievable,” United coach Ben Olsen said following Friday’s training session. “He’s been the one mainstay back there, the one constant.”
McDonald’s solid decision-making as a mainstay on D.C.’s backline is a large reason why United find themselves in position to secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference with a win or draw at Chicago on Saturday (4 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“That’s what they signed me here to do,” McDonald said. “They rewarded me, and the way for me to give back to them is producing on the field.”
McDonald, who joined United midway through last season in a trade with San Jose, has even joined the fray a bit offensively this year, setting career highs in goals (two) and assists (four). His most recent assist was arguably his most important – a sliding bump to Marcelo Saragosa, who promptly one-timed the 59th-minute equalizer by Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
“I think he’s gotten better as the year’s gone on and I think he’s taken a huge step from last year, which is a big deal,” Olsen said. “Brandon’s still young at this position. He’s only played it consistently for two years. This is a position that takes a long while to master.”
Along with goalkeeper Bill Hamid, center back Dejan Jakovic, right back Andy Najar and left back Chris Korb, the same group has started D.C.’s previous six matches. United are 5-0-1 during that stretch.
“It’s a sign of successful teams in this league that you have a consistent back four,” Olsen said. “In particular, this past month-and-a-half, it’s been good.”