Coming off a quality performance in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, D.C. United (2-11-3) returns to league play Saturday night against the Vancouver Whitecaps (6-5-4) at RFK Stadium.
Local TV: Comcast SportsNet, 7 p.m.
Weather: 86 degrees, 48 percent humidity, 20 percent chance of rain.
Referee: Matthew Foerster [bio].
DCU injuries: Center back Dejan Jakovic (adductor) will miss his sixth consecutive league match. “Slow recovery on this one,” Coach Ben Olsen said. Center back Ethan White (concussion last weekend) has been cleared to play but is questionable. Midfielder Sainey Nyassi (ankle) should be available after missing the U.S. Open Cup match.
Bill Hamid, who will report to the U.S. national team Sunday ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, will “probably” start in goal against Vancouver, Olsen said. In Hamid’s absence, Joe Willis becomes Olsen’s top choice.
Center back Brandon McDonald, a cornerstone of United’s defense for two years, is healthy but unable to reclaim his starting job.
“The reality is, Conor [Shanosky], Ethan [White] and [Daniel] Woolard have all done pretty well in recent weeks,” Olsen said. “So he is in a position now where he has to continue to be a good pro and do his work and bide his time until his opportunity comes again.”
McDonald is not the subject of trade talks, Olsen said.
United would have pursued Clarence Goodson to fortify the backline, but the U.S. national team veteran moved Friday from Danish club Brondby to San Jose, which has retained his MLS rights since 2007. United officials were aware for some time Goodson (Springfield, Va., and University of Maryland) was off-limits to the rest of the league.
Olsen described United’s player search as “on-going. We’ve got a couple pieces out there. But once you identify players, there is still a process and financial implications we’ve got to make sure make sense for us in the short term and long term. I like our group. Yeah, we need some pieces, we need to get better, but we don’t want to do anything that is so short-sighted, it affects us for next year. We’re balancing all that stuff.
“We have an option or two and we have a couple that are maybe a little more of a long shot.”
The international transfer window opens July 9 and runs for about a month.
How soon might United obtain, as General Manager Dave Kasper said, two or three players? Perhaps mid-July?
“Maybe,” Olsen said. “Ideally, when you pick up a player, you cut their vacation short and get them over here and train a little bit with you, so when that [July 9] date hits, they are ready to contribute. But each player is different — some are just coming off a season, some have had injuries. We have all different types we’re trying to sort out. But we do have a little money to play with, which is nice. That doesn’t mean we need to just blow it.”
Jamaican national team defender O’Brian Woodbine recently completed a trial. A contract offer has not been ruled out.
After the recent releases of Marcos Sanchez, Raphael Augusto and Rafael, Olsen said the club does not plan to drop any other current players. “I don’t anticipate any more waiving of players.”
Olsen also dismissed the possibility of a high-profile signing.
“There is no player [on the search list] that is earth-shattering. I don’t think we have any million-dollar players coming. But we don’t need that right now. We need to get players here that are going to help us in the short term and help us in the long term. They are out there. We have to find a couple of them.”
I asked Olsen if he has seen the “Forlan for DC” banner draped from a lower railing at recent home matches — a plea to sign the 34-year-old Uruguayan national team superstar who is with Internacional in Brazil after 11 years in Europe’s top flights.
“That would be nice,” Olsen said. “I’m not even going to talk about Forlan. People can speculate all they want. I am just not going to entertain any Forlan talk.”
Olsen denied my playful inquiry whether he himself had surreptitiously made the banner, knowing United primary investor Erick Thohir would be at RFK Stadium last weekend. “Yes, that’s it,” he said, smiling.
Returning to a serious discussion, I asked if all the targeted acquisitions are attackers.
“It’s a variety. We could use some help in a lot of areas. And when I say ‘help,’ I don’t mean starters necessarily. I mean guys who can compete for starting spots, but also depth. We found ourselves in a spot or two this year where we had to move guys out of position to make things work. Some depth would help. It would create a more competitive environment for playing time.”