D.C. United midfielder Davy Arnaud remains sidelined with a concussion, two months since being injured when a ball struck him in the head during an MLS match.
“You start at the bottom and try to build,” Coach Ben Olsen said of the recovery process. “If, at some point, you are not feeling right, you go back to the bottom. That’s how these things go. That’s been the situation so far. We’ll just wait it out.”
Arnaud, 35, has not played since Aug. 22 against San Jose at RFK Stadium and missed five league matches. He is not available Sunday against the visiting Chicago Fire and seems certain to miss the regular season finale at Columbus on Oct. 25. The playoffs will begin the following week. Even if he were cleared soon, the extended absence will have affected his conditioning and limit his minutes.
“If he comes back, we’ll get him back in the fold, in some capacity,” Olsen said. “That doesn’t mean he is going to be fit right away.”
Arnaud has visited several specialists.
“They have a good plan,” Olsen said. “There’s not a magic wand with this stuff. Just have to wait and make sure he is symptom free before he comes back to play soccer again.”
Despite the setback, Arnaud has been around the team and engaged in light exercise.
“He’s such a big part of this locker room, so he feels he’s been taken away from it,” teammate Chris Pontius said. “You go through that when you have an injury, but a concussion is a weird one. You don’t know. He has his good days and bad days.”
Arnaud is in his second season with United after 10 with Kansas City and two with Montreal. He has appeared in 23 of 32 league matches this season, with 21 starts and three assists. His value goes beyond numbers, though: The loss of Arnaud’s grit and leadership played a part in United’s six-game winless streak, which ended with a 2-1 victory over New York City FC two weeks ago.
“He’s one of the biggest competitors I have ever played with,” Pontius said, “so for him to not even be on the practice field, it eats him alive.”
Attacker Chris Rolfe joined United 18 months ago but has yet to face his longtime club, Chicago. That is expected to change Sunday.
Last year, for the teams’ first meeting, Rolfe was still with the Fire. The sides met twice late in the year, but he was sidelined with a broken arm. This season, a league suspension prevented him from playing in the June 3 meeting at RFK. And three weeks later, despite traveling with the club to the Windy City, Rolfe did not play because it was a mid-week match during a busy stretch.
Two D.C. players and four Chicago members rejoined their clubs this week from international assignments.
In Euro 2016 qualifiers, United’s Markus Halsti played 90 minutes in central midfield during Finland’s 1-1 draw at Romania and served a yellow card suspension for a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland. DCU goalkeeper Bill Hamid was in uniform but did not play in the U.S. team’s 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena.
Chicago midfielder Matt Polster returned from U.S. under-23 duty at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, while attacker David Accam played 90 in Ghana’s 1-1 friendly draw with Canada at RFK and defenders Joevin Jones and Daneil Cyrus went the distance in Trinidad and Tobago’s 0-0 draw with visiting Nicaragua.
The Fire will try to avoid becoming the seventh team in MLS history to go through the regular season without winning an away match. Chicago has 11 defeats and five draws. It’s been done the previous two seasons: United in 2013 and Montreal last year. …
With home victories in their previous matches two weeks ago, both D.C. and Chicago ended long skids. United was winless in six straight before coming from behind to defeat New York City FC, 2-1, at RFK, while the Fire recovered from a first-half deficit to overtake New England, 3-1, and stop a five-game losing streak. …
TV on Sunday: Comcast SportsNet, 2 p.m. ET.
Weather outlook: 52 degrees, sunny, breezy.
You’ve heard about the raccoons, birds, rats, cats, cockroaches and wasps. Add another creature to the legend of RFK: bats.
Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra shared this story from his starting assignment in the CONCACAF Champions League match Sept. 15 against Panama’s Arabe Unido:
“In the 80th minute, I noticed one landed next to me in the penalty area and sat for a few minutes. Then a few minutes later, another showed up and they circled for a few minutes. They got as close as maybe two feet in front of my head. The groundskeeper was watching from the sideline. I was moving my arms around to make sure they didn’t get any closer. As soon as the game ended, they were off.”