United Notebook

Status of Ailing Fred, Gallardo Is Still Uncertain

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

D.C. United playmaker Marcelo Gallardo and midfielder Fred jogged around the mushy training grounds and later did stretching exercises while their teammates practiced yesterday, not a comforting sight for a club that has been offensively incoherent for much of the spring and remains stuck in the deepening pit of MLS's Eastern Conference.

Fred, a Brazilian wing with exceptional ball skills, has missed the past two matches -- both shutout losses -- with unrelated quadriceps and hamstring injuries. Gallardo sat out last Thursday's defeat to Chicago with a groin muscle ailment.

With United (2-5 overall, 0-3 on the road with no goals scored) slated to play three of its next four games away, the timetable for the pair's return is being closely monitored.

"Obviously, everybody that comes back helps," said United Coach Tom Soehn, whose team will play Chivas USA (1-4-2) on Saturday night at Home Depot Center outside Los Angeles. "But we still need more days to figure out whether that is going to be a probability or not."

Gallardo has apparently been slowed by his injury for a couple weeks and finally sat out last week's loss to the visiting Fire. He did not want to comment yesterday.

Fred was initially injured in the first half of the 4-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on April 26 at RFK Stadium, a right quadriceps contusion that sidelined him for several days. But in the course of rehabilitation, he pulled his left hamstring.

In the May 4 match at Colorado, with Fred left behind in Washington, Gallardo and United labored to generate scoring chances. With both sidelined last week, United's offensive rhythm and defensive concentration did not match its early energy level and the club again struggled to create opportunities.

"I am working on it," Fred said. "I want to play so much. I need to get back out there."

Meantime, midfielder Devon McTavish, who has missed three games with a sprained foot, said he believes he is close to returning to regular training. His availability for Saturday remains unclear. Midfielder Domenic Mediate (two starts) is back from a hamstring injury.

The poor results, however, might be taking a psychological toll on a team that was favored to win the conference but is already 12 points behind first-place Columbus (6-1).

"I wouldn't say we are down, but we are starting to look at ourselves and try to figure out what is wrong," McTavish said. "It is not as light as it has been in the past in the locker room. Everyone is starting to take their job a little more seriously. It's time to get results. We need to do it. It's starting to get critical at this point."

Added Soehn: "There is a lot of season left [23 games] and it's never time to panic, but there is more urgency to make sure we become a harder team to play against and make sure we are more opportunistic."

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