WASHINGTON – With D.C. United defender Robbie Russell out at least a month with plantar fasciitis, 24-year-old Chris Korb is expected to slide into the starting spot at right back.
And what better time for Korb to re-enter the starting lineup than Saturday against Columbus (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), in his home state of Ohio?
“I always love going back to Ohio,” he said. “As soon as the schedule came out, this is one of the games that you circle. It’s always great being back home and being able to see a bunch of friends and family.”
Much like his teammate (and roommate) goalkeeper Joe Willis, who will start this weekend in place of Bill Hamid, Korb is familiar with stepping up when called upon.
A graduate of the University of Akron, Korb has played in 11 games this season and started seven. He has logged 740 minutes, has one assist and took his first shot on goal in last Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Houston.
“If I’m called upon, I’m always ready,” Korb said. "The coaches know that. I think they have faith in me and whoever else they put in."
In 2011, Korb’s first year in the league, he played in 12 games (all starts) and logged 1,020 minutes and two assists. But he admitted following Thursday’s film and indoor training session at RFK Stadium that last season’s length got to him.
United coach Ben Olsen already has noticed a change in Year Two.
“I think he’s figuring out the pro lifestyle and what you need to do to sustain the concentration over a long season,” Olsen said. “That second year, the season isn’t as long.”
Olsen is confident that Korb, the club’s second-round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, will be able to step in for Russell without issue in a crucial match before D.C. have their second extended break of July.
“It’s always a difficult spot for a young guy to be in and out of the lineup and stay with your rhythm, especially when you haven’t had a lot of reserve games,” Olsen said. “But he’s a gamer and he’ll be fine. He actually gets forward pretty well and he has some qualities that Robbie doesn’t. So that’s a good thing.”
One of United’s other back four, Brandon McDonald, applauded Korb for his even-keeled mentality this year.
“For him, keeping a positive attitude and staying focused is impressive,” McDonald said. “Most guys, when they’re playing well and they get taken out, they can have an attitude and be a rotten apple in the locker room. But he’s got a great attitude. I like playing with him. He brings a lot to the table and a lot to our back line.”