In the run-up to Saturday's showdown with the New England Revolution, D.C. United was hit with another injury setback at midweek. In-form striker Alecko Eskandarian rolled his left ankle while jumping to avoid a challenge from defender Mike Petke, and was taken to the doctor for examination.
"This stuff happens, you know? They are very competitive in the last couple of weeks in practice, everyone is involved," said head coach Peter Nowak. "Mikey made a clean tackle, and unfortunately Esky landed on the left leg."
X-ray tests for bone or ligament damage came back negative, but the second-year goalscorer is still listed as questionable for Saturday. If Eskandarian, who is tied for the team lead in goals scored in 2004, cannot play, Nowak may move Freddy Adu into a forward role.
Another option is a return of the 4-5-1 formation United experimented with earlier in the season, with Jaime Moreno the sole frontrunner. This would allow Nowak to utilize his midfield wealth, including new signing Christian Gomez, whom the coaching staff is eager to see on the field.
"Christian's getting better," says Nowak. "He still needs to understand what we're doing, what the moves are, a better understanding with our midfield line. He's still got a good connection with Jaime, so its very positive; they communicate pretty good over there. We'll see what he can do, how we can bring him into our team."
The main obstacle to Gomez entering the lineup is his lack of fitness, with the Argentinian league season having concluded several months ago.
"He stays after practice to work on some things," says Nowak. "He knows that he needs some extra work, especially fitness-wise. The soccer part is going to be all right, I'm just afraid that he's going to get tired after 45, 50, 60 minutes when he's going to start. We're going to see how things develop in the next couple of days, and then we're going to decide what to do with him."
Charles Boehm is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.