D.C. United’s Mohammed Abu, who performed very well in four matches as a replacement in an injury-battered lineup, is likely to miss the rest of the regular season with knee damage.
Pending additional consultation, the team has not set a timetable for Abu’s return. However, Abu suffered a grade 3 MCL injury, a complete tear that typically requires surgery and four to eight weeks of recovery. The MLS regular season will end Nov. 8, which is less than seven weeks away.
Abu was injured sliding into Pablo Piatti as the Toronto midfielder attempted to shoot from the top of the penalty area.
“It was a brave play from him, but the power of the strike, I think his knee gave way a little bit,” Coach Ben Olsen said Saturday.
Abu, a native of Ghana, is in his first season in Washington after 1½ seasons with the Columbus Crew and one-plus years with Valerenga in Norway. He made his D.C. debut Aug. 21 against Cincinnati and, after another appearance as a substitute, replaced the injured Felipe Martins in the starting lineup.
Abu, 28, is the third D.C. player to suffer a significant knee injury this year. Attacker Paul Arriola tore an ACL in the preseason, and Martins tore an ACL in training three weeks ago. Arriola is hoping to return next month; Martins is out until next summer. Another candidate for the defensive midfield, Russell Canouse, has been sidelined for a month with a hamstring injury.
Abu’s absence could open a starting slot for Moses Nyeman, a 16-year-old homegrown player who has made three appearances as a sub. Teenagers Kevin Paredes and Griffin Yow, who scored the tying goal Saturday, have also received playing time since the season resumed in July.
Olsen also could move winger Julian Gressel into the middle, as he did at the start of the second half Saturday. A reconfiguration of the formation is also an option.
Barring the return of an injured player, United (2-5-5) will play without seven regulars Wednesday at Nashville (3-5-3): Abu, Arriola, Martins, Canouse, Edison Flores (head), Steven Birnbaum (ankle) and Ulises Segura (calf).