Jaime Moreno likely to start for short-handed United
Saturday, October 9, 2010; 12:33 AM
D.C. United essentially has two rosters: the long list of players unavailable because of injuries, suspension and international duty, and the motley crew representing the club in the waning weeks of this difficult MLS season.
On Saturday night against the playoff-bound San Jose Earthquakes at RFK Stadium, interim coach Ben Olsen will mix and match personnel from his reduced roster in an attempt to win consecutive league games for the first time in 16 months.
The most glaring deficit is in central defense. With Dejan Jakovic (Canada) and Julius James (Trinidad and Tobago) representing their respective countries and Barry Rice and Juan Manuel Pena injured, Olsen is likely to pair Jed Zayner, an outside defender, and Clyde Simms, a midfielder hampered by a groin injury. The top reserve is J.P. Rodrigues, who was summoned from second-division Miami FC this week.
Also absent are midfielder Branko Boskovic, who started in Montenegro's 2012 European Championship qualifier Friday; rookie of the year candidate Andy Najar (yellow card suspension); and four additional injured regulars.
A recent acquisition, Carlos Varela or Junior Carreiro, is likely to start on the right side of midfield. The backup goalkeeper, Chase Harrison, was an emergency call-up last month.
If Adam Cristman, who resumed training this week after minor knee surgery, isn't cleared to play, Olsen will have just three field players and Harrison on the bench.
United (6-18-3) has failed to win two MLS matches in a row since June 2009, a span of 43 games. This year, D.C. has enjoyed only two periods of modest success: two victories and a draw in late May-early June and consecutive ties in early July.
Unrelated to the absences, Olsen is planning to start captain Jaime Moreno in place of Danny Allsopp. Moreno, in his final season with United, has not appeared in the past four matches - last week, he didn't accompany the team to Colorado for personal reasons - and played just 194 minutes with one start since the middle of July.
The inactivity has allowed Jeff Cunningham of FC Dallas to tie Moreno, 36, for the league's career scoring lead with 132 goals.
It's been an uncomfortable situation for Olsen, a recently retired player weighing the needs of an organization enduring its worst season and managing the final days of the club's most accomplished player.
"Jaime and I have had some good chats as of late and have a good understanding of what is going on," Olsen said. "I want to see him go out in the right way. I expect him to play, and play at a very high level, the next couple of games."
The Earthquakes (11-8-7) have been shut out in their previous two matches and are missing three attacking players to international duty: Ryan Johnson (Jamaica), Cornell Glen (Trinidad and Tobago) and Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador).
United Notes: Boskovic played the first half of Montenegro's 1-0 victory over Switzerland, the country's third consecutive win heading into Tuesday's showdown with group favorite England (2-0) at Wembley Stadium. He will return for United's final away match, next Saturday against the Chicago Fire.