September 21, 2019

Espindola injury a major setback for D.C. United

D.C. United announced on its website Tuesday morning that forward Fabian Espindola, the offensive revelation that has allowed the club to go from worst to first early this Major League Soccer season, will miss approximately six weeks with a knee injury suffered against Montreal on June 11.

The club stated that Espindola suffered a strained MCL from a tackle. Espindola, who had three assists in the 4-2 win at Montreal, led the club with seven goals and eight assists. The eight assists were already a career high, and Espindola was on pace to smash his career high in goals (10), as well.

Espindola will miss matches against Seattle, Toronto FC (twice), San Jose, and Chivas USA, given the reported 6-week timeline. A possible return date if he can his fitness quickly be August 3 at Houston, but given the usual weather conditions there that time of year, he could be saved for the August 9 match at Real Salt Lake. If Espindola misses the Houston match, three of the matches he wouldn’t be available for would be against teams not currently in playoff position. Seattle leads the West, while Toronto is fourth in the East. Houston is seventh in the East and San Jose/Chivas USA are in the Western cellar.

To this point, Espindola’s brilliance had allowed United to surge to the top of the Eastern Conference standings with 25 points from 15 matches. Last season, D.C. was the worst club in the league, with just three wins and 16 points from 34 matches. United has turned it around despite little production from high-profile forward signing Eddie Johnson (one goal and one assist) and a season-long injury to midfielder Chris Pontius.

In particular, Espindola’s ability to work together with Chris Rolfe, signed from Chicago early in the season, had really bolstered a United attack that produced just 22 goals all of last season, a total the club has already matched in 2014.

Without Espindola, there will be a heavier reliance on Johnson and Rolfe, and United head coach Ben Olsen will have to hope the form Luis Silva displayed with his hat trick against Montreal continues on a more consistent basis. Of note, however, two of those three goals were assisted by Espindola and the other was a penalty kick.

Espindola had played nearly 91 percent of the available minutes to this point. He was acquired by United in the Re-Entry Draft on December 18, 2013. This is Espindola’s eighth season in MLS. He spent the first six with Real Salt Lake before moving to the New York Red Bulls in 2013. Espindola is 28 years old and a veteran of 168 MLS appearances.

U.S. OPEN CUP: United is in action tonight in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, at the Rochester Rhinos of third-division USL PRO. The round has not been kind to MLS teams thus far. The Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, and Chivas USA were all eliminated by second-division NASL teams on Saturday. San Jose advanced past USL PRO side Sacramento Republic, while the Houston Dynamo squeaked a 1-0 win over the Laredo Heat of the Premier Development League.

United does not return to league play until a June 28 match vs. the Seattle Sounders in a battle of conference leaders.

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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