Can DC United compete without Wayne De Rosario? Does the rest of the team have the talent and mental toughness to pick up the pieces and be a playoff contender?
Things started to look bleak for D.C. United’s playoff hopefuls. Early last week, United’s star player, Wayne De Rosario, was sidelined for the rest of the season due to a knee injury. The attacking midfielder suffered a medial collateral ligament sprain to his left knee during World Cup Qualifiers playing for his home country Canada on September 11th. His injury required no surgery but he will be out for 10-12 weeks.
Journalist Steven Goff of the Washington Post poignantly explained the significance of De Rosario’s name missing from the roster:
With only six weeks left in the season, how does a coach and team rebuild their ongoing efforts without a player like that? Head Coach Ben Olsen admitted there is no getting around the loss of one of the league’s most productive and influential players. There is no replacing De Rosario, but Olsen has asked every other player to do a little bit more and they seemed to have taken his words to heart.
Part of Olsen’s new plan has been placed on the shoulders of DC United’s newly named captain, Chris Pontius. Already the teams’ leading goalscorer and MVP of the MLS All-Star Game, he will be the key to keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive.
Pontius has showed he has talent but now his leadership will be tested. The attacking midfielder was clutch in his first game as skipper in Saturday night’s match. He led his team by scoring an equalizer, his 11th goal of the season, and followed that up with the assist to the game winning goal.
After Saturday, DC United has extended their unbeaten streak at home to 14 games and is currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. If the team, led by Chris Pontius, can step up their game — especially Danny Cruz picking up a lot of slack in a short amount of time — DC United can continue to keep their playoff hopes alive!