As D.C. United writes new chapters in its worst-to-first saga, some of the characters we thought would play prominent roles have started to fade. Eddie Johnson’s not producing goals, Christian Fernández has already parted ways with the club, while Fabián Espindola’s earned an involuntary break for kicking Felipe Martins.
Jeff Parke, however, was off to a decent start with his new team before a foot injury sidelined him for the last five games, an absence the team’s been able to take in stride thanks to rookie Steve Birnbaum. Now, with news that Parke could miss “several more months,” United may have to relay on its rookie defender for longer than originally anticipated.
On Thursday, a team representative suggested that more information on Parke’s injury would be available in the coming week, though sources also confirmed to MLSsoccer.com that the steady center back’s ailment may keep him out for several more months.
In Birnbaum’s five starts, United’s gone 3-1-1, with the team’s only loss coming to the league-leading Sounders (1-0, June 28). Having allowed only five goals in that time, United’s slightly (and insignificantly, statistically) reduced the team’s goals allowed rate in Parke’s absence.
We hit on this after D.C. won in Toronto, but with Parke in focus, it bears repeating. Parke may be “steady,” but he’s not so great that he should take time away from Birnbaum, provided the number one pick has proven he can do the job.
During the last five games, Birnbaum’s shown the first signs he can play at this level. Perhaps those five games will prove aberrational, but for now, there’s reason to think D.C.’s no worse off.