For the large majority of D.C. United fans, the objectives from Saturday's friendly against Fulham in Jacksonville, FL were simple: Get a big appearance fee, and avoid injury to anyone who played. It looks like we'll all have to settle for a 50% success rate, as Andrew Dykstra has torn an achilles tendon and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season.
Dykstra went down early in the second half of a game that probably didn't need to be played, and was replaced by normal starter Bill Hamid. Dykstra's spot in the gameday 18 will be taken by Joe Willis, who has been recalled from his season-long loan to the Richmond Kickers. When available, Willis has been Richmond's starting keeper and should return to the United squad without any rust.
For Dykstra, however, the injury is a badly timed one. After spending two years as a third-string GK whose game action came on loan with the Kickers, Dykstra stepped his game up during the offseason to move past Willis on the depth chart. It could be reasonably argued that he was in the best form of his career, given that his previous run as an MLS starter came as a 23 year old back in 2010.
Wednesday's game against Toronto FC begins the most crowded part of the 2014 schedule for the Black-and-Red, with fifteen games in the next nine-and-a-half weeks. Given Ben Olsen's tendency to give his backup the occasional game during congested spells, it seemed safe to guess that Dykstra had a shot at playing three or four games in the coming months. Instead, Willis will get those games, assuming Olsen doesn't just stick with his All-Star keeper in every match.
It's worth noting that midfielders Kyle Porter and Alex Caskey suffered ankle and knee injuries, respectively, during this friendly match. Meanwhile, it also came out today that center back Jeff Parke is out indefinitely due to migraine headaches. Throw in Chris Pontius and Fabian Espindola, and United is down to having 18 available players unless they want to recall loanees like Michael Seaton, Conor Shanosky, or Jalen Robinson.
Espindola is at least approaching a return from the MCL sprain he suffered thanks to a cheap shot from Felipe of the Montreal Impact. Per Steve Goff of the Washington Post, Olsen says Espindola is questionable right now for both games this week.