WASHINGTON – Despite having an extra week to prepare and recover ahead on Friday night’s match against Sporting Kansas City, D.C. United will be significantly shorthanded heading into Sporting Park (8:30 pm ET, MLS Live).
After receiving news that midfielder Nick DeLeon would miss roughly six weeks from a hamstring strain he suffered against Columbus, the club was dealt another significant blow when it was announced Thursday evening that captain Dwayne De Rosario did not travel with the team to Kansas City and would miss the match with an adductor strain.
Toss in injuries to John Thorrington and Lewis Neal, and that’s four fewer midfield options from which United coach Ben Olsen has to choose.
“It’ll be a very, very tough match, even when you’re at full strength going there,” Olsen said Thursday before the team left for Kansas City. “And we’re not. So we’re going to find out about some more guys this weekend and I look forward to that. I look forward to a challenge right now that our group needs to be together and committed to get a result.”
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One player who more than likely will get the starting nod is winger Marcos Sánchez. The Panamanian midfielder started United’s second match of the season (and the club’s only win) against Real Salt Lake and recently returned from starting both matches in Panama’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Hexagonal round last week.
“I’m happy to be back and happy to keep working hard and get ready for the KC game,” Sánchez said through a translator. “I feel good out there on the right and I’m very confident in my abilities.”
Olsen previously has applauded Sánchez for his on-ball abilities, something United likely will need to exercise against a Sporting club that likes to keep possession, especially at home.
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“He’s very, very calm on the ball, good on the ball,” said United midfielder Chris Pontius of Sánchez. “He reads the game well, sees it well. I think the more we get him involved in the game early on, the better. The more touches we get him early on, the better.”
Joining Sánchez as a young midfield option on the flank is Kyle Porter, who subbed on for DeLeon after he was injured.
“Porter’s got great offensive instincts,” Olsen said. “We’re trying to bring him along on the other side and he’s getting there. And Sánchez is a wonderful little player. He’s been in big games with the Hex and we’re excited about both young talents. Both of them have to learn this league, still, and they will, but it’s going to take a little time to really get the demands of the American game.”