WASHINGTON – With injuries and suspensions starting to pile up, D.C. United have crucial decisions to make ahead of Sunday’s Eastern Conference showdown with the Columbus Crew (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“We’ve got to evaluate everybody,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “They just came in early and are going to see doctors and trainers and everybody and get what they need to recover and be ready.”
Forward Charlie Davies trained with the club on Friday, a day after he didn’t travel for Thursday night’s 3-2 loss against the Philadelphia Union due to a stomach virus. But the biggest news of all is the lingering injury concern over Dwayne De Rosario, who departed early in the second half on Thursday after suffering a knee contusion.
The bad news does not end there, as central defender Brandon McDonald will be out due to yellow card accumulation. Center back Dejan Jakovic, who has sat out the last five games with a hamstring injury, is also being monitored, and is a possible candidate to replace McDonald against the Crew.
Losing De Rosario, whose recent electric form has seen him piling up goals and assists while spearheading United's playoff push, would be a huge blow. After Friday’s light mid-day training session, it was still too early to determine the severity of the injury and the Canadian international’s status for Sunday.
“I did various tests, there doesn’t seem to be any serious knee injury, which is good,” De Rosario said. “We’ll play it by ear.”
The backline decision will be similarly ad-hoc. Jakovic is still day-to-day, but has trained in the past few days with the team. Regardless of who replaces McDonald, it won’t be an easy task.
“It’ll be tough. He’s a good guy to have in there, a good communicator, but we have other guys that can step up too, and I don’t think we’re worried about that,” right back Perry Kitchen said.
Kitchen is one of the options to slide into the middle alongside fellow rookie Ethan White. That means Chris Korb could get his first start since July at right back. Other options include Daniel Woolard or Marc Burch in the heart of D.C.’s defense.
No matter who gets the start at the back, Olsen believes Sunday provides the perfect opportunity for his side to put the loss to Philadelphia quickly behind them and continue to climb up in the standings.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to go and show we’re capable of beating a pretty good team away,” Olsen said.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. You can follow him on Twitter @travismclark