Let’s begin with the basics …
D.C. United is 2-4-4 in league play after a 2-0 defeat to New York City FC, a setback that dropped DCU to 2-3-1 at RFK Stadium (seven of a possible 18 points). The Red Bulls arrive Friday night. [My match report]
Not known for its defense, NYCFC (3-3-4) recorded its second clean sheet of the season and sixth across 44 league matches since its inception in 2015.
United was blanked for the fourth time in 10 league matches and fifth in 12 dates overall.
Fabian Espindola did not pass a pregame fitness test and sat out for the second consecutive match with a hamstring ailment.
Chris Rolfe served an MLS-imposed suspension, but even if eligible, he wouldn’t have played: He suffered a concussion against Chicago and did not train all week. As with all concussed players — and DCU has had a lot of them over the years — there is no timetable for return.
Patrick Nyarko departed in the first half with an apparent illness. The team confirmed he had not suffered an injury. Nick DeLeon missed last week’s match with the flu but played 90 Sunday.
Attacking help might be on the way soon. Alhaji Kamara, a 22-year-old forward for the Sierra Leone national team, arrived in Washington last week. His agent soon followed. Contract talks have continued for several days. Kamara attended Sunday’s match and was in the locker room afterward.
This is not a straightforward case, however. Kamara has a heart condition. If that sounds familiar, United went through a medical saga last year with Eddie Johnson, who was forced to retire. United is not commenting, but sources say Kamara has visited several specialists in Washington and been cleared to resume his career.
Based on its history with Johnson, United is not taking the matter lightly. And if there were any reasonable risk of signing him, United would back off. But doctors have assured the player and club that the issue is different than Johnson’s and the risk is very low.
Kamara played for Norrkoping in Sweden’s top flight, scoring 10 league goals in 2014 and six last year. He also had five goals in five domestic cup matches during that time and scored for Sierra Leone in a World Cup qualifier against Chad. However, early this year, as part of medical protocol ahead of UEFA Champions League qualifying this summer, a physical exam detected heart irregularities. Both he and Norrkoping figured he would not play this year, if ever again.
Here’s where details become murky. Is he forbidden from playing in Europe because of the health issue but free to pursue opportunities elsewhere? If so, does Norrkoping still own his contract? (He remains on Norrkoping’s website.) Would United acquire him on a free transfer?
MLS’s primary transfer window — the period in which teams may request an international transfer certificate — closes Wednesday. The secondary window will not open until July 4.
Hence, a resolution, one way or the other, is expected soon.
Would Kamara help right away? Who knows. But with Saborio missing chances like he did Sunday, Rolfe sidelined, and Espindola missing time and out of rhythm, United needs another option.
Other news …
United is close to finalizing a sponsorship deal with Safeway. It’s unrelated to negotiations involving naming rights for the new stadium at Buzzard Point. (Sources say the club is engaged in talks with about a half-dozen companies.) The Safeway pact is also unrelated to the jersey sponsorship, which belongs to Leidos through the 2018 season.
RFK and United officials have submitted a bid to stage the U.S. women’s national team’s Olympic send-off match July 24 against an opponent to be announced. The stadium is available because United is in Toronto the day before.
ESPN has scheduled a soccer tripleheader July 24: U.S. women at 1 p.m. ET, followed by Sporting KC vs. Seattle Sounders at 3 and Paris Saint-Germain vs. Inter Milan at 5. The American women will also play a pre-Rio friendly July 9 or 10.
Local organizers are also hopeful of bringing the U.S. men’s national team to RFK in early October for a friendly during a FIFA window. Presumably, the Americans will be between the end of the World Cup qualifying semifinal round and the start of the CONCACAF hexagonal in November.