So much for continuity.
Poised to kick off the 2013 campaign at the Houston Dynamo on Saturday with a starting 11 comprised of holdovers, D.C. United saw that plan thrown askew by the news early Friday that captain Dwayne De Rosario will be suspended for two matches after head-butting Philadelphia midfielder Danny Cruz during a preseason game last weekend in Orlando, Fla.
With De Rosario out, what will coach Ben Olsen do? Here are the main options:
• Perry Kitchen figured to start in central midfield next to Marcelo Saragosa or John Thorrington. Now, Olsen can put in all three. Considering Houston’s narrow field, having a trio of defensive midfielders might make more sense than inserting another attacking player and trying to win pretty.
• While Olsen leaned on the 4-5-1 late last year, he still turned to playing two true strikers in select situations. Could Rafael and Lionard Pajoy partner up top? It’s probably a long-shot, but worth consideration.
• The newly signed Marcos Sanchez offers depth on the flank, which could allow United to shift Chris Pontius from his left wing position to an attacking midfield or withdrawn forward role. While Pontius found plenty of success at forward last year, it became apparent down the stretch Olsen definitely prefers him in midfield.
CARLOS RUIZ A VILLAIN TURNED HERO?
In today’s print edition, my feature focuses on striker Carlos Ruiz, a classic MLS villain who United are now happy to have on their side.
A telling quote from Olsen: “I would always want a guy like that on my team. I didn’t even know he had such a rep, but apparently he’s a ‘controversial figure.’ It doesn’t take much to be controversial, though. I don’t know — I love the guy.”
KYLE PORTER ACQUISITION FINALIZED
United on Thursday finalized the acquisition of Canadian midfielder Kyle Porter, sending a second-round pick in the 2014 supplemental draft to the Vancouver Whitecaps for his rights.
Porter, 23, received his first two caps with the Canada national team in January. The winger had spent the past two campaigns with FC Edmonton of the NASL and spent the 2007-08 season with Vancouver’s residency program. He had been on trial with United throughout preseason.
A wide midfielder, Porter gives United natural depth behind starters Nick DeLeon and Pontius.