FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England coach Jay Heaps knows Dwayne De Rosario's unexpected absence will likely make the Revolution's visit to D.C. United just a little bit easier.
That fact, however, doesn't mean he relished the news that the reigning MLS MVP will miss the next 10 to 12 weeks after sustaining a grade III MCL sprain in the early stages of Canada's 2-0 defeat at Panama on Tuesday.
“I hate seeing that,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com. “I think DeRo is one of the best players in our league and has been one of the best players in our league. He's having another great year. And you hate seeing that. My thoughts and prayers go out to him that he has a quick recovery and that he can get back in for D.C. when they make a run and also for the World Cup qualifiers.”
THE DAILY: Breaking down DeRo's injury
Those positive thoughts will not bring De Rosario back in time to feature on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online). His injury creates a significant hole in United's attack because he operates freely as a second forward within Ben Olsen's usual 4-4-2 setup and shoulders much of the creative burden.
Heaps and his players certainly would have paid special attention to De Rosario ahead of the match. Instead of focusing on the veteran schemer, they must now try to figure out how United will adjust in his absence.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis said those potential alterations will not unduly influence how his side approaches the match.
“You prepare for the team you're facing, not the team that you could be facing,” Reis said. “With him being out, he's such a dynamic player. He's scored over 100 goals, so he obviously knows what he's doing. He's proven it time and time and year and year again.”
Other United players must assume some of that responsibility in De Rosario's absence, but the allocation of responsibilities remains in flux at the moment. The uncertainty may benefit a Revolution side looking to extend its unbeaten run to four matches and sustain its faint postseason hopes for another week, but it could also prove troublesome if the likes of Nick DeLeon, Andy Najar and Chris Pontius bond together to compensate for their injured teammate.
“It is a different wrinkle, but you see a lot of teams that lose a star player and lose an engine on their team and a couple of guys step up and play pretty well,” Reis said. “It's getting down to playoff time, so everything's critical.”