Photo courtesy of D.C. United.

Bruised United battle Atlanta for the first time

D.C. United’s three-game road trip came at a hefty cost. With just Sunday’s match against Atlanta United left in the string of away games, United has collected only one point and lost more than a handful of players.

“We are a little thin, but we will take it day-by-day and see which guys come back and which guys are available for the weekend,” Olsen said. “It is a little bit of an injury bug, but nothing that everybody else isn’t dealing with.”

Midfielder Patrick Nyarko (hamstring), defender Nick DeLeon (groin), defender Steven Birnbaum (concussion protocol), forward Patrick Mullins (hamstring), forward Sebastien Le Toux (elbow), midfielder Luciano Acosta (ankle), and defender Taylor Kemp (illness) all were sidelined in the last three weeks.

“The way we build our team, it is very deep,” coach Ben Olsen said. “We don’t have the $6 million players, but we have a lot of really good players that are capable of getting results in this league.”*

Fortunately for United, there is a strong chance that Mullins, Acosta, and Kemp will be available to retake their roles on the field. Mullins, one of United’s returning leading scorers, will most likely return to his position up top and the crafty Acosta will return to his role in the center of the field with rookie Ian Harkes, who has continued his consistent performance.

“Hopefully he can continue to keep playing at a the level he’s at and just continue to grow,” Olsen said of Harkes. “Over the last month and particularly the last three games, I think you have seen him take a step forward.”

A thinning pool of players won’t be United’s only challenge this weekend. With 80-degree temperatures and high humidity, United’s match against Atlanta will be one of the hottest away games so far this season.

“I haven’t checked the weather report down there,” Olsen said. “This will be our first real week of heat. It was going to come eventually. Why not this week?”

United heads down to Atlanta for the afternoon match Sunday at the historic Bobby Dodd Stadium. This is the first time United will play against Atlanta since the expansion team began their inaugural season earlier this year. Game time is set for 3 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.

“We are not looking for one guy to say, ‘Hey now you need to step up,’” Olsen said. “If we collectively have that many good performances, we have a chance to win games, and that is no different this weekend.”

United Extra

The 2017 MLS players’ salaries list is out. Topping the list, again, Orlando City SC’s KaKa at a whopping 6.66 million. Check out the complete list here: https://www.mlsplayers.org/images/April%2015,%202017%20Salary%20Information%20-%20By%20Club%20(New%204-26-17).pdf

Emily Olsen
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Emily Olsen

DC United Beat Writer at The Left Bench
Emily Olsen is the D.C. United beat reporter for The Left Bench. She has also covered basketball recruiting. Emily dreams of one day traveling the world reporting on the Olympics and World Cups. In her off time, Emily enjoys coloring outside the lines.
Emily Olsen
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About Emily Olsen 112 Articles
Emily Olsen is the D.C. United beat reporter for The Left Bench. She has also covered basketball recruiting. Emily dreams of one day traveling the world reporting on the Olympics and World Cups. In her off time, Emily enjoys coloring outside the lines.