Last Thursday, we discussed reports that Fabian Espindola would be suspended for the first six games of the 2015 MLS season. That hypothetical has, as expected, become a reality. MLS has confirmed that Espindola will be banned from D.C. United's first six league matches in 2015 after he shoved assistant referee George Gansner following the Black-and-Red's playoff elimination at the hands of the New York Red Bulls.
Espindola was apparently still upset with a play in the build-up to NYRB's goal on the day, which eventually served to eliminate United. Regardless, shoving an official is clearly unacceptable behavior. Espindola, through the team, apologized for his actions after the suspension was confirmed. The suspension will not have any impact on United's CONCACAF Champions League efforts.
United will need to make do without their best attacking player to start next year, and that's not a good spot to be in. While both Eddie Johnson and Luis Silva managed to score some goals in 2014, both played their best soccer alongside Espindola rather than as a duo. If a Silva-EJ combination can't prove that they're a threat in the preseason, Ben Olsen will have to consider dropping one of them for either Chris Pontius or Chris Rolfe.
It will be interesting to see which Chris is preferred as a forward and which starts at left midfield in that scenario. It may well depend on which of Silva or Johnson is dropped. If Silva ends up on the bench, it could go either way. With EJ, however, Olsen will likely prefer the athleticism and hold-up ability of Pontius over a Rolfe-Silva duo. However, we can rest assured that Silva and Johnson will be given a fair amount of time before changes are truly considered.