D.C. United center back Kofi Opare is done for the year after a foot injury required surgery. United announced today that the 28 year old has undergone surgery to repair a tendon in his foot, and that his expected recovery from the procedure runs 4-5 months. That’s a timeline that would mean missing virtually all of the 2019 preseason, and possibly even the first month of the regular season.
“It’s a serious injury,” said head coach Ben Olsen after describing the injury, which involves one of the peroneal tendons (ligaments connecting the fibula to the foot).
Opare had not appeared in any of United’s last six games, and had only been in uniform once during that span (against FC Dallas on October 13). He’ll finish the season with 11 appearances (10 starts). While these figures are obviously shaded by falling in the part of the season where United was playing almost exclusively at Audi Field and had Wayne Rooney and Russell Canouse in the fold, the Black-and-Red’s record in games Opare started this year was 6-2-2. United conceded just 11 goals with Opare on the field.
Losing Opare certainly reduces United’s depth and athleticism at center back. While Olsen has options that can battle in the air or chase attackers down with speed, Opare is the best combination of those two abilities. D.C. will most likely carry on with the combination of Steven Birnbaum and Frederic Brillant, with the question being who is just behind them on the depth chart. Jalen Robinson has shown promise in the past, while Kevin Ellis has more MLS starts at center back than anywhere else. Olsen may also be tempted to play Chris Durkin there, particularly if United finds themselves needing a very attack-minded lineup for a second leg in a playoff game.
Opare joins a lengthy list of injured defensive players. Left back Taylor Kemp has missed the entire season with a hip problem that required surgery, while right backs Oniel Fisher (knee surgery) and Chris Odoi-Atsem (Hodgkin’s lymphoma) are also done for the season. Vytas has not yet appeared in a match for United since arriving via trade, though he may be approaching full fitness after a hip injury. Goalkeeper David Ousted is on a similar path after undergoing elbow surgery back in August.