D.C. United coach Peter Nowak is facing several game-time decisions thanks to a recent rash of injuries as his team prepares to face the San Jose Earthquakes tonight at RFK Stadium.
Nowak, known for making last-minute changes, has to decide whether to play forwards Jaime Moreno and Alecko Eskandarian and midfielder Steve Guppy, all of whom missed Saturday’s 1-0 home loss to Kansas City with injuries. That loss, which marked the halfway mark of United’s 32-game season, left the defending MLS champions (6-6-4) near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
“I will talk with Jaime and Alecko and the medical staff, but we don’t want to push these guys too hard, as the season doesn’t end next week,” Nowak said.
While Moreno (ankle) and Guppy (Achilles’ tendon) probably have the best chance of playing, Nowak’s big decision concerns Eskandarian. The forward has experienced post-concussion syndrome since he collided with New England goalie Matt Reis on June18, and it seems unlikely the fearless Eskandarian will play tonight.
“I want to play, but this is nothing to joke around with,” said Eskandarian, who has had three concussions in his MLS career. “I felt better all week, then I got a headache again. I keep getting these five-minute migraines, which I never had before. It might be [Nowak’s] decision or it might be mine, but I will be honest with him.”
United officials are concerned about Eskandarian because 29-year-old Columbus midfielder Ross Paule was forced to retire in April because of post-concussion syndrome.
All three of Nowak’s recovering players put in a good training session yesterday, but Eskandarian decided not to head any balls.
“Just having those guys out there makes a big difference,” Freddy Adu said. “San Jose is hot right now, and it’s important for our confidence to get a win.”
If Guppy plays it will be his first MLS action since injuring his Achilles’ tendon in a 4-3 loss to New England on April23. Guppy, who started the season’s first four games and earned an assist, got a good workout Monday in an exhibition match against Rochester. He had an assist and four shots in 59 minutes of play in the 3-2 win.
Meanwhile, D.C. United midfielder Christian Gomez was added as a reserve to the MLS All-Star team that will face English Premier League club Fulham FC on July30 at Columbus Crew Stadium. MLS commissioner Don Garber chose Gomez with one of his two commissioner’s picks.