WASHINGTON - Things just got a little more complicated for the team at the top of the Eastern Conference.
D.C. United were dealt a tough blow on Sunday afternoon when forward Luis Silva left their eventual 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo in the first half with an apparent hamstring strain. On Monday an MRI revealed the extent of his injury: Silva will miss four to six weeks, ruling him out for the remainder of the regular season and likely the first round of playoff action as well.
“It’s tough,” United head coach Ben Olsen told the media assembled at his side’s training session on Tuesday morning. "But we’re not in mourning. It’s an injury, and we have players that will come in and hopefully do the job in his absence. He’s a guy that has been fantastic for us over the last couple months and it’s a big blow – but again, we’ve had these circumstances throughout the year and we seem to have responded in the right way. Guys have filled in pretty admirably."
Silva had formed an efficient partnership up top with fellow forward Fabian Espindola, the two combining for 21 goals. In his absence, United will likely turn to Designated Player Eddie Johnson – who more recently has found himself deployed as a substitute in large part due to the stellar play of Espindola and Silva.
On Tuesday, Olsen expressed confidence in Johnson – not only in his ability on the ball but in his mindset as well.
“It’s never fun when you’re not starting,” said Olsen. "To stay in it mentally and for him to understand that his time was going to come, and to now be the man up top is a credit to him."
Added defender Sean Franklin: "I see Eddie up top with Fabi – that’s as dangerous for us as Silva and Fabi. I’m looking forward to seeing them, and like I said, I wish Luis a speedy recovery.”
The former TFC forward’s impending absence isn’t the first time United have gone without the services of a first-choice offensive piece this year. Johnson himself missed nearly a month while recovering from a concussion, while midfielder Chris Rolfe is still on the mend after breaking his left arm. Chris Pontius has only recently returned to the fold after recovering from hamstring surgery, and Espindola missed a stretch of games mid-year recovering from a knee ailment.
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In each instance – especially in the case of Espindola – United kept right on going, never seeming to suffer the ill effects of the injury. Steve Birnbaum and Taylor Kemp filled in defensively; a host of others have pulled weight on the other side of the ball.
“It’s tough,” said Franklin. “We’ve had a couple guys go down this year with injuries. Important guys. He’s a big piece as to why we’ve been successful; it’s one of those things where we wish him a speedy recovery. It’s nice that we have an extended season, being in the playoffs. Hopefully he’ll be back for that."