“Regardless of the reality of whether he gets suspended, we have done it before” without him, Coach Ben Olsen said after Thursday’s training session.
The league’s disciplinary committee was planning to suspend De Rosario for one or two matches for head-butting an opponent in the preseason finale last weekend, sources told the Insider. He has exercised his right to appeal the decision to Commissioner Don Garber. MLS does not announce disciplinary action until the entire process is complete — thus, the long wait for a formal news release.
A suspension for preseason misbehavior is not unprecedented: In 2003, United’s Hristo Stoitchkov was penalized two regular season games and fined $2,000 for a tackle that broke a college player’s leg.
When United was without De Rosario late last year, Olsen employed five midfielders with one striker. If he chooses to go that route, the most likely arrangement is a central midfield triangle of Perry Kitchen, Marcelo Saragosa and John Thorrington.
However, in part to keep Houston in the dark, Olsen suggested the possibility of two forwards.
“We have got ways to skin it. Chris Pontius has played a little forward underneath. I feel comfortable with Nick DeLeon in that role as well. So we have a lot of guys who can play different roles.”
Olsen said he is also comfortable utilizing Marcos Sanchez, even though the Panamanian right wing has been with the club for only a few weeks. Sanchez received visa clearance this week and is eligible to play.
“He has played in [World Cup] qualifiers, and I think those are pretty significant in the weight of them, the physicality and pace of them,” Olsen said. “He has been in real games.”
Unrelated to the suspension drama, De Rosario did not practice Thursday.
“He had a personal day, let’s leave it at that,” Olsen said, holding back a laugh.
The matter was not physical or soccer related and is minor, he added.
De Rosario later arrived at RFK Stadium for an indoor workout and conditioning.