The MLS Disciplinary Committee has suspended Bobby Boswell for one game for a foul in last week's 0-0 draw against the Houston Dynamo. D.C. United will have to do without their captain in Saturday's home game against the New England Revolution as a result. The play in question saw Boswell drive his knee into Will Bruin's lower back in the 28th minute in Houston. Referee Allen Chapman initially gave Boswell a yellow card, but the Disciplinary Committee apparently landed on a unanimous decision (as is required in these situations) to further punish United's captain.
On replay, it's a difficult decision to argue with. Boswell makes the effort to lift his knee up higher than normal, and Bruin is probably lucky that he was able to keep playing. It'll be the first time in a long while that Boswell will not play in an MLS regular season match:
6/1/13 was last time Boswell missed a regular season #MLS game. Was suspended 1st leg of RB series last year after Agudelo incident #DCU— Steven Streff (@streffsoccer) June 23, 2016
United is already without Steve Birnbaum due to the Copa America Centenario, and the recent release of Markus Halsti means United has just two players with playing time as central defenders. It looks like Kofi Opare will be partnered by Jalen Robinson. Robinson recently played 120 minutes alongside Opare in United's US Open Cup match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. On one hand, he came up with a couple of very important blocks inside the box while also preventing a breakaway from midfield with some clever positioning. On the other hand, he did occasionally struggle with the physicality of Maicon Santos; with the Revs virtually certain to start Kei Kamara the challenge will be tougher.
Ben Olsen would probably like to recall Birnbaum, but the US national team is under no obligation to answer that call. In all likelihood, Jurgen Klinsmann is considering giving Birnbaum a start in the third place game against Colombia. Beyond a shocking turn of events in which Birnbaum returns to DC, Olsen's options are extremely limited. Sean Franklin played center back as a rookie, but that was in 2008. Homegrown signing Chris Durkin is not eligible to play MLS league matches this season, so the US under-17 captain is not an option for this one.
Beyond that, Olsen could look at a back three, but that would only make the problem worse. Going to three at the back requires two players who are more like center backs than fullbacks flanking one man in the middle. If United already lacks center backs, going to a back three is just going to make that more apparent.
Olsen will also have to potentially cope with another short bench. With the status of forwards Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio still uncertain, United could have as few as 17 total healthy and eligible players for this one. Even if both veterans are cleared to play some part, it's not an ideal situation. Should United reach 19 available players, Olsen's choice - leaving out third-choice goalkeeper Tally Hall - is pretty much automatic.