Injuries to midfielders Ben Olsen, Marco Etcheverry and forward Jaime Moreno, D.C. United’s all-time leading goal scorer and points producer, have the club looking like just a shell of itself with two weeks remaining before an important international match.
Case in point was yesterday’s 1-0 scrimmage loss to the A-League’s Richmond Kickers at RFK Stadium’s auxiliary field. United played 90 minutes of uninspired soccer with no semblance of an attack without Etcheverry.
To make matters worse, Richmond’s lone goal was scored by Jonel Castma, who is trying out for the Kickers.
This was United’s second sub-par outing in the past three days. On Saturday, United tied Virginia 2-2 in another forgettable scrimmage. On March 6, United plays Guatemalan club Comunicaciones in Guatemala City in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
“We are miles and miles away,” United coach Ray Hudson said of his team’s preparedness for the season. “We’re not close to being ready for a powerhouse team like Comunicaciones. They’ll eat us for breakfast.”
United’s players don’t necessarily share Hudson’s pessimistic view of what lies ahead. Yesterday’s embarrassment also saw United play without holding midfielder Richie Williams, whose wife gave birth to the couple’s first child a girl and teen-ager Bobby Convey, who was held out as a safety precaution.
“We’re missing a lot of players,” United forward Abdul Thompson Conteh said. “Actually, we came into this game looking for certain things. We’re missing bodies that will be there [against Comunicaciones] Richie Williams will be there, Marco will be there, Bobby is ready to play, and we will go with that. We’re not concerned; we just need to be consistent in what we’re doing.”
United departs today for South Florida, where the club will train for the next two weeks. United will play the Colorado Rapids in an exhibition in Bradenton, Fla., on Saturday and scrimmage Florida Atlantic on Feb. 27. United will resume training in Washington on March 8.
“We seem to be knocking the ball around nicely enough,” Hudson said. “We’ve got to get better. It’s as simple as that.”