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ON SOCCER: Injuries taking toll

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Midfielder Fred has been listed out three to four weeks with a hamstring injury.

”It's very disappointing because he's been coming on,” said United coach Tom Soehn, who goes into Saturday's game against the visiting Colorado Rapids with a roster depleted by injuries and suspensions.

Fred, a right-sided flank player, has been one of United's bright spots in recent games. He scored the game-winner on the road at Chicago last Saturday and was United's most enterprising worker in the 2-1 loss at New England on Wednesday before pulling up with a hamstring injury in the 72nd minute.

The Brazilian joins a long list of injured United players, including the club's high-paid playmaker Marcelo Gallardo, who has missed the last five league games with a sports hernia injury.

United is currently without defender Gonzalo Peralta (hamstring), midfielder Domenic Mediate (concussion), goalie Zach Wells (toe injury), forward Francis Doe (foot infection), midfielder Ben Olsen (ankle) and defender Marc Burch (yellow card accumulation).

United striker Jaime Moreno has been struggling with a severe cold all week and was given the day off on Friday but should be ready for the game. Moreno has been involved in all of United's five goals in the last four games, earning three goals and two assists. The club's leading goal scorer Luciano Emilio (11 goals) has been held scoreless in the last three games. The club is 7-0-1 when the Brazilian scores.

“Consistency comes with putting the same guys on the field,” Soehn said. “We've had a carousel of guys, whether it be injury or suspension.”

Before United's season was interrupted by a three-game losing skid in SuperLiga at RFK Stadium in July, United had completed a four-game win streak. Now the club hasn't been able to string together two consecutive league victories in five outings (2-3).

”You want to have your best guys out there and a deep bench, but we've had a tough time getting that,” defender Bryan Namoff said. “Injuries are starting to take a toll on us and that has affected our formation and the way we play.”

With a third of the season left, United is eight points adrift of conference-leading New England but still in the running for a wild-card playoff spot. With a woeful road record (2-7-1) and only five home games left, Saturday's game at RFK Stadium is turning into a must-win match.

“We have to get six points in these next two home games at this juncture in the season,” said Santino Quaranta, who will take on the playmaking duties against the Rapids.

Colorado (7-10-3, 24 points) arrives at United (9-10-1, 28 points) on the heels of a coaching shakeup. Coach Fernando Clavijo resigned on Wednesday stating personal reasons and has been replaced by assistant Gary Smith. Clavijo was in his fourth year at Colorado and left with a 40-49-25 record.

Smith already has made some big changes, including benching midfielder Christian Gomez, the former D.C. United star.

This will be Gomez's first visit to RFK since he left United in February to join the Rapids.

Gomez, 33, set up both goals in the Rapids' 2-0 home win over United in May. However, he appears to have fallen out of favor with Smith and is not listed in the starting lineup for Saturday's game.

The Argentine midfielder spent almost four seasons at United, helping the team win the 2004 MLS Cup but decided to move on after contract talks fell through in the offseason. He earned $218,000 with United in 2007 and now earns $430,000 with the Rapids. United brought in Gallardo to replace Gomez, paying him $1.8 million.

In 97 games for United, Gomez tallied 39 goals and 29 assists. He is third on United's all-time scoring list behind Moreno (119) and Roy Lassiter (36). At Colorado, he has earned three goals and six assists in 18 games.

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