WASHINGTON – D.C. United fans seeking a little more insight into the absence of Designated Player Eddie Johnson from the starting lineup in last weekend's season-ending playoff game got a few more details on Wednesday.
With Luis Silva sidelined with a hamstring injury, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen had to choose who would partner Fabian Espindola up top: Johnson, who’d reclaimed his spot in United’s starting lineup after Silva went down, or a newly healthy Chris Rolfe, United’s dynamic midfielder who had only recently returned to the game-day roster.
Olsen ended up plugging Rolfe in a move many assumed was purely tactical. When asked after the match about his decision to leave Johnson out of the lineup, Olsen said Johnson had unspecified “health issues” which had influenced his final choice.
On Wednesday, Johnson met the media at RFK Stadium as part of the team’s end-of-season availability and shed some light on just how serious those health problems were.
“I’m fine now, but I wasn’t feeling good late Thursday night [Nov. 6],” Johnson told the media in attendance. "I went to the hospital at 2 am. My EKG is always a little abnormal, as I have an athletic heart, but I was dehydrated. My blood pressure was really high, so they kept me in the hospital overnight. I was there from 2 am and didn’t get out until 1 pm the next day, Friday.”
The trip to the hospital factored into Olsen's thinking when it came time to settle on his starting XI.
"Any time a guy spends a night in the ER, it certainly influences your decision," Olsen said. "But Rolfe was certainly in the mix anyways."
Johnson attributed the issue to dehydration.
"I was really dehydrated,” Johnson told MLSsoccer.com. "I was really scared. It was really scary. They did an echo, CAT scan on my brain and chest. Everything was fine. I was really dehydrated. Because my blood pressure was high, they wanted to keep me overnight just to run tests on me. I didn’t get out 'til the next day."
Pablo Maurer covers DC United for MLSsoccer.com.