It'd been just over three months since Emiliano Dudar started a regular season game for D.C. United. On Saturday night, in front of 14,640 fans at RFK Stadium, the center back made his return to the lineup and played all 90 minutes of United's 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew.
Dudar suffered a hamstring injury in a game against the Houston Dynamo on April 28 that put him out of action. He first returned to the team in a U.S. Open Cup match at the end of May. After that, though, he played in only one game, in the World Football Challenge on July 28, before Saturday night.
"It's hard because while I was out of the team, the guys who were in the team were doing very well," said Dudar via a translator. "I feel good [after playing], I feel happy to be again with the first 11."
The defender acknowledged that playing time is what he needs to get back into prime shape.
"I felt good, although always after a couple weeks off of the team, it's always difficult," said Dudar. "As the match progressed, I felt better and better and I feel as I get more matches and minutes, I'm going to feel better."
Saturday night against the Crew, Dudar looked to have put his injury behind him. He was solid defensively and attempted a number of long balls down the field.
But coach Ben Olsen knows the defender still needs to shake off some rust.
"He had some errant passing that didn't help us at times, but he had some passing and calmness that [did] help us at times," said Olsen. "I thought overall, he had a pretty good day."
Standing at 6-foot-4, Dudar's presence in any defense is easily noticed. His teammates are glad that he's back and look forward to him being a key member of the back line.
"It was great ... he's a big guy [and] he's as vocal as he can be," said defender Brandon McDonald. "Having his presence back there is great."
"It was good and he has that European experience that you want," said goalkeeper Bill Hamid. "He's a class defender, so it was good to have him there."
Around the 60-minute mark, Dudar collided with teammate Danny Woolard and both were shaken up. Woolard was substituted out with a possible concussion.
Dudar understands the risks involved with a head injury. He suffered one of his own in 2010 while playing for BSC Young Boys in Sweden back in 2009. It was so serious that he was put into a medically-induced coma and woken up a day later.
"What happened in Switzerland was an isolated incident and I just left it behind," said Dudar. "I don't think about it anymore."
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