After a brief reprieve from a season full of injuries, D.C. United has been stung again. The club announced yesterday that central defender Carlos Llamosa will miss two to four weeks with a sprained knee ligament and playmaker Marco Etcheverry is questionable for Saturday's playoff opener against the Miami Fusion because of a sore knee.
"Any time you lose a quality player it hurts," Coach Thomas Rongen said. "But our resiliency and depth have really come out throughout the year, and no matter who's in there, we've shown we don't lose much."
Both players were hurt in last weekend's regular season finale against New England at RFK Stadium.
Llamosa left midway through the second half after getting knocked down on Joe-Max Moore's slide tackle near midfield. He underwent an MRI exam Monday night at Fair Oaks Hospital and although it revealed no cartilage damage, team doctor William Hazel concluded that Llamosa would need several weeks to allow the medial collateral ligament in his right knee to heal.
Llamosa played in only four matches between May 29 and Sept. 4 mainly because of quadriceps and other leg injuries. The latest setback comes at a time when he was making steady progress in the last month from the earlier injuries and had been United's best defender at the CONCACAF Champions Cup tournament in Las Vegas.
He might be able to return in time for the Eastern Conference finals, which begin Oct. 30, if United advances.
With Llamosa out, Rongen likely will use Carey Talley in central defense alongside Eddie Pope and return Diego Sonora to right back. Last weekend, Talley played right back and Sonora moved forward to the right side of midfield.
That midfield slot now may be filled by John Maessner, who hasn't played much in recent games, or rookie Chris Albright.
As for Etcheverry, Major League Soccer's all-time assists leader, he played the entire game against New England despite suffering a hard foul by Jeff Baicher in the first half. On Monday, the Bolivian star had a sprained capsule in his left knee diagnosed--the same knee that required major surgery prior to the 1994 World Cup.
"I think Marco will be fine," Rongen said.
In case Etcheverry is not ready, forward Jaime Moreno probably would fill the playmaking role.
Soccer Notes: Former MLS deputy commissioner Sunil Gulati was named managing director of Kraft Soccer Properties, which operates the Revolution. . . .
The U.S. Soccer Federation is moving closer to finalizing the field for the U.S. Cup, which may include a match in Washington. Preliminary plans are for the U.S. national team to be joined by Mexico, Poland and South Africa in the annual round-robin tournament next summer. . . .
A 180-foot-high United replica jersey will be unfurled on a building at the corner of 20th and K streets Northwest at 3 p.m. today and remain there throughout the playoffs. . . . Team officials have requested that fans planning to attend Saturday's game wear black clothing as part of the club's "Blackout" promotion. . . . At an awards dinner last night, Roy Lassiter (18 goals) was honored as the team's leading scorer, Moreno was named club MVP and Jeff Agoos was named top defender.