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D.C. United shows life after De Rosario’s injury

United at Fire

4 p.m. at Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill. (NBC Sports Network)

Life after De Rosario

On Sept. 11, Dwayne De Rosario suffered a knee injury while on Canadian national team duty, depriving D.C. United of its leading point scorer and the defending Major League Soccer MVP. When De Rosario went down, the club was in a 2-5-2 rut. But since then, D.C. United has gone 5-0-1 and clinched its first playoff berth since 2007. A look at how the team has thrived in De Rosario’s absence:

Goalkeeping

United has allowed just four goals over its past six games, all with 21-year-old Annandale native Bill Hamid in net.

Unsung heroes

Rookie Nick DeLeon and a pair of journeyman midfielders — Marcelo Saragosa and Lewis Neal — scored in United’s playoff-clinching win over Columbus last weekend.

Faces in new places

Andy Najar, a natural attacker on the midfield flank, moved to the right side of the back line to shore up the defense. Defender Chris Korb moved from the right side of the field to the left when Daniel Woolard was sidelined in August with a concussion.

Big earners, role players

Two of the team’s highest-paid players at the start of the season — forward Hamdi Salihi and midfielder Branko Boskovic — have become role players, yet both still contribute. Boskovic gave United a 1-0 win with a goal against Chivas USA on Sept. 23, and Salihi scored the game-winner in a 1-0 win over Toronto on Oct. 6.

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