September 15, 2019

D.C. United News: Luis Silva’s career year interrupted by injury

D.C. United announced via its Twitter feed this morning that midfielder/forward Luis Silva suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Houston, one that will keep him out for “4-6 weeks.” Silva is United’s leading scorer with 11 goals and is having by far the best season of his Major League Soccer career. Silva’s work combining with Fabian Espindola and until recently, Chris Rolfe (who is also out injured), has revitalized United’s attack and been one of the key factors in the team going from last place a year ago to within one point of clinching home-field advantage throughout this season’s Eastern Conference playoffs.

Silva left Sunday’s match in the 30th minute and was replaced by Eddie Johnson. The substitution came a few minutes after play had resumed following a long weather delay.

Beyond just the loss of Silva, who has produced 11 goals and four assists in 27 appearances (22 starts) this season, the absence of both Silva and Rolfe creates a lineup headache for United head coach Ben Olsen. Olsen had found solid roles for players like Silva, Espindola, Rolfe, and Johnson, and all seemed to be doing well in those spots. Johnson’s work as a substitute to help United keep control of games and sometimes extend leads was seen again on Sunday, when he and Espindola keyed a late attack that eventually led to Johnson’s goal that put the game away, giving United its first-ever win in Houston.

With Rolfe still recovering from a broken arm and Silva now out perhaps well into the playoffs, players may have to come out of their comfort zones to try and sustain United’s offense. Would Olsen move Johnson back in as a starter up front? Or will Chris Pontius, himself just recently returning from long-term injury, be asked to play more forward working off Espindola? United has been fortunate this season in that it has gotten a decent haul of goals from multiple players in addition to Silva, with Espindola netting 10, Rolfe six, Johnson six, and even defensive midfielder Perry Kitchen chipping in five.

But United’s offense has seemed to work best when Rolfe, Silva, and Espindola were all in partnership and now two-thirds of that group is absent. Pontius should be fresh and fit to make up for some of that loss. Now, midfielders such as Nick DeLeon and Davy Arnaud, as well as Johnson in whatever role he now will possess, are going to have to produce for United to stay on its current successful course. Espindola’s playmaking ability also will be heavily relied upon. He leads the club with nine assists.

United has two matches left in the regular season, including this Saturday at home to Chicago and then the following week at Montreal, the two bottom teams in the East. If Silva misses only the minimum four weeks as announced by the club, he would potentially return for the two-game Eastern Conference final series that begins the weekend of Nov. 22-23, should United advance past the conference semifinals. Rolfe was injured at the start of September and expected to miss six weeks, so his return could be imminent if the original prognosis holds.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. For in-game analysis and story notifications, follow him on Twitter @writered21.

About Ed Morgans

Ed Morgans is DC United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Ed worked for The Journal Newspapers (now The Examiner) and covered DC United from 1997-2002. He spent the 2003 season writing for the club’s website. Ed has covered All-Star Games, MLS Cups, CONCACAF Champions Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international friendlies. He also worked as a blogger at www.bigsoccer.com, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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