- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Already dealing with a string of poor results, D.C. United now is facing disciplinary problems.

Three key starters are suspended for Saturday night’s game at RFK Stadium against the New York Red Bulls, who are fighting for a playoff spot.

Bryan Namoff and Josh Gros were both ejected from Sunday’s 1-0 loss at the Chicago Fire and must sit out the game, while midfielder Brian Carroll picked up a yellow card. He is suspended because of his accumulation of cautions.

“I felt in the last game there was a couple of phantom calls,” said midfielder Ben Olsen, who was suspended for last week’s game at Chicago.

For Gros, it was his second red card in just three games and he is only the fourth player in United history to receive two red cards in regular season games.

Gros was ejected in a 2-1 win over Chivas USA on Sept. 3 in the 94th minute for abusive language. He sat out the next game and returned to score the only goal in a 1-1 tie at New England 10 days later. On Sunday, he was ejected in the 88th minute for a serious foul. Gros has been an important player for United this season, with three goals and five assists. He is fourth on the team in points.

“We feel we’ve gotten some unfortunate breaks, but we also feel we are not going to get any good breaks either,” assistant coach Mark Simpson said. “Teams are fighting and scratching. A good team makes its own luck.”

The suspensions come at a time when United is struggling to get back to its early season form with the playoffs looming. It is 2-3-5 in its last 10 league games, scoring only 12 goals.

“I’m more concerned with the way we are not winning games,” Olsen said. “We are still playing good soccer, but we are not finishing. Our offense is definitely struggling, and our defense over 90 minutes is having it tough to keep a clean sheet. We have been wilting under the pressure.”

Olsen said coach Peter Nowak gave his players a “stern paternal” grilling at practice yesterday, urging his team to be refocused and recommitted.

United has received 55 cautions this season and is tied with FC Dallas for the second most yellow cards behind the Colorado Rapids (58).

Note — United will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its 1996 MLS Cup championship and honor the players from that team before Saturday’s game. Former midfielder Marco Etcheverry will be elected into the Wall of Excellence at halftime.

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