Just two days before the next match, D.C. United’s practice session Monday looked like a weekend pick-up game.
Between mounting injuries and players in need of rest following Saturday’s match in Houston, Coach Ben Olsen put 14 players through workouts at the RFK Stadium training grounds.
United (5-4-3) will play at home against the Colorado Rapids (5-5-0) on Wednesday and Toronto FC (0-8-0) on Saturday.
“We will evaluate all of this stuff tomorrow,” Olsen said. “We’ll bring everybody in and see which ones can walk and which ones can run.”
United is most concerned about defensive midfielder Perry Kitchen, who was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on his right knee. He was injured landing awkwardly in the first half of the 1-0 loss to the Dynamo. The club doesn’t believe he suffered a ligament injury, but meniscus damage would probably sideline him for several weeks.
Chris Pontius, the club’s second-leading scorer, aggravated a gluteal muscle injury Saturday and is out. Defenders Emiliano Dudar, Dejan Jakovic and Ethan White, as well as midfielders Nick DeLeon and Marcelo Saragosa, are recovering from injuries. Their status for Wednesday’s match remains unclear.
Maybe the head coach should sign a short-term contract?
“I have been trying to talk upper management into that for 2 ½ years now,” the gimpy-ankled boss said with a grin.
Olsen said he would be reluctant to recall defender-midfielder Conor Shanosky from a season-long loan to second-division Fort Lauderdale because “Conor is in a good rhythm over there and really getting invaluable experience that is crucial to his development.”
On a lighter note, United was in the Houston airport terminal Sunday morning when the English Premier League drama unfolded. The players and staff watched at a restaurant before boarding, and to their delight, live TV was available on the United Airlines flight to Reagan National.
One problem: Unlike JetBlue, United charges for TV access after a free preview, so when ESPN2 was blocked, players scrambled to find credit cards in order to reactivate the video monitors.
When City scored the late equalizer, the delegation erupted in excitement, prompting a warning from a flight attendant.
“There was a lot of screaming and shouting,” said midfielder Lewis Neal, an English midfielder who grew up idolizing Ryan Giggs and Manchester United. “The rest of the people on the plane were thinking, ‘Who are these crazy people?’”