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United's Quaranta Is Out 4-6 Months
D.C. United's Santino Quaranta will have foot surgery Tuesday, ending his season and jeopardizing his availability for the start of training camp in 2010.
Quaranta, a midfielder and forward who leads the team in assists with six, ruptured a plantar plate in his left foot during an intrasquad scrimmage last Friday. The club announced he will be out four to six months, though Quaranta said he is hopeful he'll be ready in three to four months.
The injury occurred, he said, when he was bumped by a defender after leaping for a bouncing ball at the top of the box in an attempt to advance it forward. Upon landing, he jammed his foot into the ground.
"My foot took all my body weight," he said. "I knew it was a bad situation."
It was yet another untimely setback to United, which is in danger of missing the MLS playoffs for the second straight year and falling short in group play of the CONCACAF Champions League.
For Saturday's league match against Eastern Conference leader Columbus at RFK Stadium, United will also be without goalkeeper Josh Wicks (knee and shoulder injuries), right back Bryan Namoff (concussion), midfielder Ben Olsen (red card) and midfielder-forward Chris Pontius (yellow card suspension).
With two regular season games remaining, United (8-8-12, 36 points) trails New England (10-10-8, 38) by two points for the final playoff slot. However, Dallas (10-12-6) and Toronto (9-10-9) are even with D.C. in points while Real Salt Lake (9-11-7) is two back and with a game in hand. After Saturday, United will conclude the schedule Oct. 24 at Kansas City.
In between, D.C. will visit Mexican power Toluca in the Champions League group finale Oct. 20, likely needing a victory to advance to next year's quarterfinals.
Quaranta was United's most effective attacker much of the year, serving as a striker, withdrawn forward and wing. His early-season performances earned him a U.S. national team call-up for the Gold Cup in July, and he scored during a 2-0 victory over Honduras in a first-round match in Washington.
"It's another chapter, you know?" said Quaranta, who overcame injuries and a drug addiction to resurrect his career in 2008. "This wasn't part of my offseason plan, but in the bigger picture, it's not the end of the world. I'm looking forward to getting back."
United Note: The club finalized the acquisition of goalkeeper Steve Cronin, on loan from the second-division Portland Timbers, for the remainder of the season. Though the roster deadline passed, United was able to make the move because it lost a goalie (Wicks) to a season-ending injury. Cronin, the USL-1 goalie of the year, played 22 MLS games for Los Angeles last season.
-- Steven Goff