Pontius, White, Riley facing health issues
D.C. United hopes it won't have to pay a steep price for its most resounding victory of the season.
While Dwayne De Rosario posted a breakout hat trick in United's 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union to earn a place in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, a trio of D.C. players limped off the field with injuries in the contest.
Most notably, midfielder Chris Pontius had to leave on the stroke of halftime after getting hit in the head in one collision and then getting run over on a body check by Amobi Okugo a minute later.
|Toronto FC at D.C. United|
|When » Saturday, 7 p.m.|
|Where » RFK Stadium|
|TV » CSN|
"He told me he didn't have a concussion," United coach Ben Olsen said. "But I'm not buying it for a second. He didn't look so hot, so we'll get all the testing done and see where he's at."
Defenders Ethan White and James Riley also left with minor knocks, evidence of just how hard United was willing to work to change its slumping fortunes.
On the positive side, midfielder John Thorrington continued to increase his impact and comfort in the midfield and rookie Taylor Kemp was solid at left back, a position where he will expect to compete for more minutes as the season progresses.
De Rosario did the most to prove to himself and to Olsen that his struggles in league play are just an aberration. With one goal in 11 appearances, De Rosario was demoted to the bench in two of D.C. United's last three games. He expressed his displeasure with Olsen following a 2-0 loss to Portland on May 25, but the player and coach have worked to smooth the rough edges since.
"I'm passionate, there's blood in my veins," De Rosario said. "I just want the best, and I don't settle for anything less. And sometimes, you're going to bump heads when things aren't going your way. I have a strong personality. Like I said, I'm passionate, and he [Olsen] has a strong personality too, so we're going to bump heads."
De Rosario has five goals in the last two games at RFK Stadium against Toronto FC, which will make its first visit to Washington since former United president Kevin Payne resigned for a move north of the border in the offseason.
Payne's first act was to lure former United defender Ryan Nelsen from the English Premier League back across the Atlantic Ocean to retire and take the coaching reins for a team with a rabid fan base but a history of underwhelming performance. While United is in the midst of a franchise-record 12-game winless streak in MLS play, Toronto has similarly gone 11 matches without a win.
"There's a silent confidence about us that we can get out of this thing and now's the time," Olsen said. "It's nice to be continuing in the Cup, but we need to start performing in this way in the regular season, and that starts this weekend against Toronto."