Reality has set it around RFK, where Major League Soccer’s MVP and D.C. United critical linchpin will miss the rest of the season. That’s a nasty kidney punch to a team that already needed to punch its way into playoff grace.
What manager Ben Olsen had to say to the Washington Post:
It’s bad news, but it’s over with. What changes is you don’t have a guy out there who can do really special things at any given moment. I’m looking for some other guys to raise their game. We are under it a little bit. We have a pressure situation here.”
The good news (if there’s any) is that DCU management has dutifully accumulated more offensive depth than most MLS team. Heck, two men who came into the league as Designated Players, Branko Boskovic and Hamdi Salihi, aren’t even starters.
It’s fair to criticize management and scouting to have these two significant underachievers (for DP finds, that is), but that’s beside the point now. This is a final chance for either or both to step forward and help close the De Ro gap.
Anybody who has seen Andy Najar has long recognized the game-changing ability within the Honduran midfielder. But he’s just 19, and the consistency has been elusive so far – understandable for his age. So… here’s his opportunity.
Nick DeLeon was an early, rookie revelation. Then he hit the rookie wall and has been a marginal factor in D.C. United’s season since the spring.
Maicon Santos of recently acquired Lionard Pajoy could gain a better career toehold by showing something during this important time.
And then there is Chris Pontius. I put him at the top of my list of “next” on the national team order. That is, if anybody has an unclaimed ticket on one of Jurgen Klinsmann’s rosters, I say it’s Pontius.
With 10 goals and 2 assists, the young American has already done his part around RFK. If he can drive the team even further (Past Columbus, perhaps, and into the MLS playoffs?), Klinsmann will find the man harder and harder to ignore.