D.C. United’s injured central defenders reported to the RFK Stadium training grounds Tuesday, but only Ethan White participated in full workouts.
White has yet to play this season after undergoing knee surgery but appears to have made steady progress. Match fitness remains an issue, though.
Emiliano Dudar (hamstring) and Dejan Jakovic (ankle) are also uncertain for Saturday’s match against the Dynamo, the inaugural event at 22,000-seat BBVA Compass Stadium in downtown Houston.
“They went through a little bit today; let’s see how they respond,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “We’ll just keep building them up. We don’t know at this point” if they will be available Saturday.
Nick DeLeon, Chris Pontius, Danny Cruz and Marcelo Saragosa are also dealing with minor ailments. Robbie Russell, the regular right back, trained all out after sitting out over the weekend. All should be ready for the Houston trip.
“Some of the guys that are injured, at least they are back on the field,” Olsen said. “We will gauge them.”
Forced to play a makeshift backline in recent matches, Olsen has received mixed results, most recently a five-goal nightmare at San Jose and a shutout at winless Toronto FC. In that 2-0 victory, left back Daniel Woolard transitioned to center back to join Brandon McDonald, right-side attacking midfielder Andy Najar played right back and second-year Chris Korb, a natural on the right corner, filled Woolard’s slot on the left.
Those decisions allowed Perry Kitchen to return to his best position (defensive midfielder) after laboring on the backline at San Jose.
Commenting on Najar, Olsen said: “He still has a lot to learn at that position. You see some things out there that, maybe against a better team, could cost us, just as far as not knowing the position. Saying that, he did a lot of great things too.”
*Olsen, on forward Hamdi Salihi coming off the bench to score in consecutive matches: “We’re starting to see what he is all about. He doesn’t need many opportunities to score goals. Forwards are streaky and they go through runs. They’re human; they go through confidence issues. He wants more. He wants to play more, and I don’t blame him.”
*United defenders and defensive midfielders have combined for a goal and seven assists in the past three matches.
*United has scored 20 goals in 11 matches — one shy of what it recorded over 30 games in 2010.
*United will have all week to prepare for the Dynamo match Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network). Houston, on the other hand, must play at New York on Wednesday night and then use Thursday for travel home.
*Najar said he hasn’t been notified yet whether he will join the Honduras national team for training camp and matches in late May and early June. Among the games is a June 2 friendly against El Salvador at RFK Stadium.