- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

The World Cup took its toll on D.C. United defender Eddie Pope, who injured his left knee during the U.S. teams run to the quarterfinals and may be out two weeks.

Pope, 28, will be held out of Saturdays match at RFK Stadium against the Los Angeles Galaxy (6-5-2) and is questionable for Uniteds July 4 game at the Kansas City Wizards.

Pope, who is rumored to be courted by Spanish club Celta Vigo, was one of the U.S. teams brightest stars during its run. But Popes World Cup appearance came with a price.

"All things considered, hes been through a heck of a war," United coach Ray Hudson said. "They were injecting him before every game and he was sucking it up. It never showed in his performance that there was anything wrong with him. Well survive another couple of weeks."

To complicate matters, central defender Ryan Nelsen, who has three goals in Uniteds last three games, is being called up to New Zealands team for the Oceania Nations Cup (July 5-15) in Auckland. After Saturdays Galaxy match, Nelsen will miss Uniteds next three games because of national team commitments.

"Its a shame after I win a spot, I lose it again and then have to come back and win it again," Nelsen said.

During Popes absence, Nelsen performed admirably. He anchored Uniteds central defense either in a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2 alignment as Washington posted two consecutive shutouts, including Saturdays scoreless exhibition against Argentinean power Boca Juniors.

"Ryan will be a big miss without question," Hudson said. "Hes really come on more than any other player on our team. Hes been the one thats progressed and taken a big move forward. Hes been an inspiration. We were always depending on Ryan to fill the big boots of Eddie Pope. The way hes done that has been exemplary. Hes achieved more than I thought he was capable of. Under these circumstances without having beside him, is enormous. He has truly set the standard in the back for us."


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