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D.C. United’s Martín Rodríguez to miss MLS season with torn ACL

Martín Rodríguez, right, was about to enter his first full season in MLS. (Tony Quinn for The Washington Post)
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D.C. United’s Martín Rodríguez, a Chilean winger who appeared in 14 matches after his midseason acquisition last summer, tore his right ACL in training and will miss the MLS season.

The injury occurred Monday during the final buildup to the season opener Saturday against Toronto FC at Audi Field. The team received the diagnosis Tuesday and announced Wednesday that Rodríguez will be placed on the season-ending injury list, which affords roster space and the option to sign a replacement player.

Rodríguez, 28, arrived in July from Turkish club Altay. He started 10 matches, came off the bench four times and posted three assists, including two in a 2-1 away upset of reigning champion New York City FC on Aug. 31.

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Rodríguez was a contender to start this season, though homegrown Jackson Hopkins, 18, and free agent arrival Pedro Santos also were well-positioned to man the flanks in an attack featuring designated players Christian Benteke, Taxi Fountas and Mateusz Klich.

Andy Najar, Nigel Robertha and homegrown Kristian Fletcher, 17, also are in the mix to play wide in the attack. The roster status of Ravel Morrison, an attacker who started 11 times and scored twice after arriving last summer, remains unclear.

On Tuesday, Coach Wayne Rooney said he was hopeful of acquiring at least one additional player in the coming weeks. Over the weekend, United traded reserve striker Miguel Berry to Atlanta for up to $250,000 in general allocation money.

Rooney also said Steven Birnbaum will captain the team again and, in the opener, probably partner in center defense with Matai Akinmboni, a 16-year-old homegrown player who signed late last season.

“He’s been fantastic,” Rooney said of Akinmboni. “He’s probably been the most consistent and best player throughout the preseason.”

Center backs Derrick Williams and Brendan Hines-Ike are not available because of injury, and Donovan Pines returned to full strength late in preseason.

This story has been updated.