D.C. United defender Bryan Namoff will be sidelined for an "extended period of time" with what is believed to be a groin or abdominal injury, team officials said Wednesday.

Namoff started almost every game last season but has been limited to five appearances (three starts) this year. He missed the start of the season with a broken rib and then suffered a hip flexor strain. Namoff's latest injury has not improved in recent weeks and he is tentatively scheduled to see a specialist in Europe next week. If surgery is required, he might not be available again until late in the regular season.

In Namoff's absence, recently acquired John Wilson and veteran Brandon Prideaux are expected to maintain their starting assignments, with David Stokes as the top defensive option off the bench.

Eskandarian Improving

Forward Alecko Eskandarian, who didn't travel with the team here for Wednesday's match against the Fire, has progressed well after suffering a concussion June 18 against New England at RFK Stadium.

"He'll probably be fine for Saturday," when United will play at last-place Columbus, assistant coach Tom Soehn said. "We plan on using him to some extent."

Eskandarian, the team's leading goal scorer last year who is scoreless in 12 appearances this season, worked out with the full squad Tuesday and participated in workouts with the reserves Wednesday.

United also is without midfielders Steve Guppy (Achilles' tendinitis) and Nick Van Sicklen (strained quadriceps) and defender Kenny Arena (sprained ankle). . . . Rookie midfielder Shawn Kuykendall, a Madison High graduate who starred at American University, was included on the 16-man active roster for a road game for the first time.