Midfielder Andy Najar has returned from his Olympic exploits with Honduras, joining his D.C. United teammates for training Tuesday morning after a monthlong absence.
Coach Ben Olsen said Najar, who didn’t play in Honduras’ quarterfinal loss to Brazil, is fit, healthy and looking sharp. Selection for Najar to the game-day roster for Saturday’s match at Sporting Kansas City seems all but guaranteed.
So how is Najar handling the challenge of going from the Olympics back to the more humble settings of MLS?
“I’m really calm right now, actually,” Najar said via a translator. “I just know I have to keep working hard to earn a spot in the team and work side by side with my teammates.”
For much more, give a read to my story on Najar running in Wednesday’s paper.
WOOLARD OUT, DE ROSARIO PROBABLE
United left back Daniel Woolard is out for Saturday’s match after suffering a concussion when he collided with teammate Emiliano Dudar in a 1-0 win over Columbus this past weekend.
“We’re kind of in a holding pattern with him to make sure we go through all the steps and ensure his safety,” Olsen said.
Captain Dwayne De Rosario, on the other hand, is probable with a shoulder injury that kept him out of training Tuesday.
“It’s OK,” Olsen said. “It’s sore, but I don’t think it’s anything that’s going to keep him out.”
Woolard has started 20 of United’ 21 matches, and his 1,754 minutes are third on the club behind De Rosario and Brandon McDonald. With right back Robbie Russell sidelined by plantar fasciitis, the club now is without both of its starting fullbacks, leaving quite the gap.
Second-year player Chris Korb has performed admirably at right back in Russell’s absence. With Woolard out, he could shift to the left side and make room for Najar on the right. While it’s not Najar’s preferred position, such a move would allow Olsen to work the Honduran back into the fold while keeping Nick DeLeon in the starting lineup.
“It’s just one of the responsibilities that I have,” Najar said. “If I have to fill in at that position, I will do it 100 percent.”
Olsen’s other choice is to keep Korb at right back and start Lewis Neal or Dejan Jakovic at left back. Although Neal naturally is a midfielder and Jakovic typically plays in the middle, both players filled in at the position once Woolard exited the win over Columbus.