- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 25, 2009

More than a week after D.C. United acquired Danny Szetela, the 22-year-old midfielder is expected to play in a road match Saturday against San Jose.

After acquiring him July 15, United waited for Szetela’s international transfer certificate to come in from Brescia Calcio of Italy’s Serie B. Szetela said he was waiting on one signature to make the transfer complete.

Before the team left for California on Thursday, that certificate came through.

“It was frustrating for me,” he said. “I always want to be on the field; that’s what I love to do is play soccer. So waiting here only because you need a signature [was] a little frustrating.”

Coach Tom Soehn said his main concern was getting Szetela ready to endure a 90-minute game. So he said the delay didn’t create too many problems.

“I think the timing of it was fine,” Soehn said. “We had to get him some training before [he played] anyway. You don’t ever want to throw someone into the mix too early.”

Szetela, who first came to MLS at 17 and played four seasons for Columbus, estimated he’s “85 percent, 90 percent” ready and should be 100 percent by sometime next week.

The Passaic, N.J., native also mentioned that regardless of his fitness level, it may be hard for him to get on the field right away, especially considering how stacked United is at midfield.

“He’s grown up a lot, and I think [his time in] Italy has helped that,” Soehn said last week. “He’s matured a lot, and I think he’s someone we can rely on to get through a lot of these tough stretches.”

In the team’s last MLS game, United battled back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to beat the Colorado Rapids 3-1 at home and move into a tie for second with Columbus in the tight Eastern Conference, one point behind Chicago.

Second-half goals from the South American duo of Luciano Emilio and Jaime Moreno, who were both coming off injuries, sealed the victory and showed United’s attacking potential when its two top forwards are healthy.

“We’re just trying to enjoy it and make it work,” Moreno said. “Sometimes it doesn’t work, but definitely we know that when we’re together and when we’re [playing] our game, things… [are] a lot easier.”

United, which is 1-3-5 on the road, plays its next three MLS games away from RFK Stadium. San Jose, which is last in the Western Conference, has lost two straight and has won only one game in its past six tries.

“I think we’ve put ourselves in a lot of good spots on the road,” Soehn said. “Some circumstances changed the result, but they’ve competed very well. Tie isn’t always a great result, but on the road sometimes it is a good result.”

United will make the trip without forward Thabiso Khumalo and midfielder Clyde Simms after both had surgery. Khumalo had an operation in Virginia to repair his broken right wrist and is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks., while Simms had sports hernia surgery on his right side in Germany and could miss up to three weeks.

The team is also still without midfielder/forward Santino Quaranta, who is on national-team duty for the United States at the Gold Cup. Defender Dejan Jakovic, however, will travel with United after his stint with the Canadian national team in the Gold Cup.

“It’s a long trip out there,” captain Ben Olsen said of the trek to California. “It’s going to be a tough task. They’re hungry; they need a win. They’re kind of [like] a beaten dog. It’ll be tough to get some points, but we need to keep getting results.”

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