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Burch Sidelined

Injuries continue to batter D.C. United at an inopportune stage of the MLS season.

Marc Burch underwent surgery Monday to remove scar issue in an ankle, leaving the club without two starting defenders. Club officials are expected to announce later today how long he will be sidelined.

Over the weekend, central back Dejan Jakovic had hernia surgery in Germany and will miss two to three weeks.

Avery John is the probable replacement for Burch at left back Wednesday night against Kansas City at RFK Stadium. Defensive midfielder Clyde Simms played in central defense Saturday at Dallas and seems likely to return there tomorrow.

With one week until the MLS roster deadline, will DCU make a trade to shore up its backline? Or will it turn to reserves such as John, Devon McTavish and David Habarugira?

By Steve Goff  |  September 8, 2009; 9:59 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Next: Quaranta Apologizes


Damn rules. I wish I could say how I feel.

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Posted by: sitruc | September 8, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Couldn't happen at a worse time. This is the time when DC was supposed to make up ground on it's playoff rivals with 2 home games in 4 days. Now it looks like the team will start one good defender in Namoff and some other players who are below MLS caliber. Hard to see the team getting 6 points and its hard to see the team making the playoffs without those points.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | September 8, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

This is a major blow; Burch has been the most durable player on the roster for the past two seasons, and Jakovic the best CD since Nelsen.

I hope the squad limits its search to veteran, proven players, though those will be hard to come by at this stage. On that note I hope Simms and McDLT fill the gaps in CD. And, perhaps it's time to give Wallace a look at LB.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 8, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

we're moving to a revolutionary one man back line. sort of a sweeper-libero-right-left-center-back.

Posted by: stairs | September 8, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Out of curiosoty, why are the hernia surgeries always in Germany? Aren't there doctors in the US, let alone the DC area, who can perform this procedure?

Posted by: mercedeskk | September 8, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

McTavish was not that bad as a defender last year. As I recall, we missed the playoffs by a single goal on the last day, which is better than we're heading for now. I don't think this is the time to experiment with Wallace at left back (other than in CCL).

Posted by: granadoskerry | September 8, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse


If not Wallace at LB, then who? You have to weigh the obvious limits of Wallace's game against the glaringly obvious physical limitations of John and Habarugira....

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 8, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Out of curiosoty, why are the hernia surgeries always in Germany? Aren't there doctors in the US, let alone the DC area, who can perform this procedure?

Posted by: mercedeskk

The surgeon in Germany is world reknown for the procedure performed based on the little amount of time that the recovery takes. Even NFL players have gone to this same surgeon for the procedure.

Posted by: dcu4life1 | September 8, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Hmmmmmmm - will Tommy Soehn possibly trade Danny Szetela for a decent defender?

Posted by: AnthonyTheGreat | September 8, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

That's gonna hurt

Posted by: KireDCU | September 8, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Where's Heath Pearce? Can we trade Fred to whoever has the allocation?

Posted by: DadRyan | September 8, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse


I don't think John is that bad -- at least he knows what he's doing. He was signed for an emergency, and this is an emergency. I would rather have Wallace on the field in Fred's spot.

Posted by: granadoskerry | September 8, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Heath Pearce is in Turkey.

Posted by: diego_r | September 8, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Boy that's tough. That's a one big shoe to fill. But only one.

Posted by: OWNTF | September 8, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Thank you GoG. Wallace is the obvious fill-in at LB. Hopefully Soehn will use Wallace and either McTavish or even Janicki (how deep in the doghouse do you get for one horrible game?)before considering John or Habarugira. The other alternative...back to the 3-5-2 with Namoff, James and Wallace in the back and Olson and Simms at mids. BTW, with Birch's yellow card Saturday DCU was facing this situation for tomorrow night anyway. Just a shame it's likely going to be longer than that.

Posted by: BillyBob4 | September 8, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse


I like John too, but he's gassed after crouching for the team photo. Wallace came into the league as a LB. Even so, you (and Goff) are probably right -- Soehn finally seems tired of $#@%ing around and will go with experience over youth.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 8, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Heath Pearce is in Turkey.

Posted by: diego_r | September 8, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Uhmmm no he's not.

Posted by: DadRyan | September 8, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

This is Soehn's master plan to move from a 3 man back line to a 2 man back line.

In all seriousness, this is another large blow to DC's chances for the playoffs. Get well soon Burch.

Posted by: strago | September 8, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

This season is turning into a mess. My bigger question is Jakovic. Why does this team have so many hernia and hamstring injuries? Do other teams have the same number but we are not aware because we don't follow those teams? Or is it a training or conditioning issue unique to this particular club? If so, why has it never been addressed?

Obviously Burch is a different issue. But I expect he will be out several weeks from the sounds of things. He has been a convenient whipping boy for quite a while but now everyone is worried he will be out for a while.

Why not put Wallace back there in the LB position?

Posted by: fedssocr | September 8, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Well in, OWNTF.

Posted by: joedoc1 | September 8, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Does Soehn even realize that both Habanugira and McTavish can play Central Defense? If he did then why did he start McT at RM and Simms in central defense? I think Soehn is a moron. He has experimented with McTavish at Right Midfield for two years now with very poor resutls. I just don't think he has the capacity or long term memory to realize that it is a failed experiment. I really think that John, McT, James, and Namoff are a servicable back line while we wait for Jackovic to get back. Burch must have been in severe pain not to allow postpone the surgerty until the off season.

Posted by: no_recess | September 8, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Scar issue? That I wish you saw?

Posted by: Reignking | September 8, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Is this an elective thing that the club + Burch decided to sync with his suspension? Or will he be forced to sit one game after he's declared fit? Anybody know the answer to this?

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 8, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I assume Burch injured his left ankle. He could play through an injury to his right, since he hasn't used that foot in years.

Posted by: muskratinator | September 8, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse


Come on, there is no shortage of one-legged players on this team. Or zero-legged players for that matter. At least Burch's left side can genuinely freak the opposition.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 8, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Nothing like an absence to finally get some love from the SI commenters . . . as Homer Simpson said, "But he was doing such a good job" . . .

Posted by: fallschurch1 | September 8, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I thought Burch had his first dangerous match in a while on Saturday in Dallas.

Nonetheless, check out my FB group "Marc Burch needs a right foot."

Posted by: rmontcal | September 8, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse


This is the third or fourth time I've seen someone say McTavish was not so bad last year as a center back. My memory of events must be very different, because I thought he struggled like everyone else.


Sports hernias are common in MLS. There are always a couple guys throughout the league either out with one or recovering from one. We've had slightly more, but not by so much that we need to start up last year's witchhunt against the training staff again.


The suspension counts. If it was a national team call-up, it would wait until he returns, but otherwise it is counted as if he was 100%. So at least there's that.


Wallace would seem to be the ideal candidate to replace Burch (assuming we stay in a 442), but then we lose his dynamic play in the midfield. With Simms already being dropped back to fill in for Jakovic, I don't know if we can afford to play a midfield without Wallace. Olsen is not able to cover the entire field like he used to, and Jacobson isn't anywhere near as mobile. Quaranta and Fred usually put in good shifts as far as running is concerned, but Fred's poor form negates that somewhat.

Given that we're at home, I kind of expect Soehn to move Wallace back tomorrow, play Olsen as the lone defensive midfielder, and put Gomez at the top of the midfield diamond. I have a feeling John will struggle if called upon, since he'd be up against either Herculez Gomez or Davy Arnaud; both play aggressively and pressure their defenders, and John is a turnover machine in ideal conditions. Habarugira might be the better option, though after the Toluca game I'd still be a bit nervous with him.

KC might be starting to find itself under Vermes, though their 4-2 win in New England benefited tremendously from an awful performance by New England and a harsh red card to Joseph early. Hopefully it's just a blip, because with our defensive situation a good attacking showing from the Wizards would be a big problem.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | September 8, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for clarifying the suspension thingy.

Re: Wallace, I'm not sure Soehn sees him as a starting AMF at this point -- either that or Wallace was over-utilized in the first half of the season and Soehn is dialing him back. It sure was fun to watch him come off the bench at the OC final and cruise past a bunch of tired defenders.

Olsen as lone DMF is interesting; on the one hand Olsen as the lone anything scares me, but he'd have two CDs lined up behind him.

Finally if Habarugira lines up across from Arnaud, well, let's hope the grass at RFK is tall and soft, for his sake. John would be the better option for that physical matchup, and I'll take a dozen turnovers at midfield vs. one inside our own 6.

Anyway we'll find out tomorrow. Looking forward to it. Vamos.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 8, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Actually Burch needs his R foot more than most.....since he can't actually use it to play the ball, it is vitally important in planting and cutting.

I would like to see Wallace as LB

Moreno, Olsen, Szetela as subs.....some shaky guys there, I know, but not sure the other options....

Posted by: marksman37 | September 8, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

McTavish with Clyde. I would put Wallace lest wing and put Fred in the middle where he can distribute the ball.

Posted by: VirginiaFan | September 8, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Make that left wing.

Posted by: VirginiaFan | September 8, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Wallace would seem to be the ideal candidate to replace Burch (assuming we stay in a 442), but then we lose his dynamic play in the midfield.


Dynamic play in the midfield? My memory of events must be very different, because I thought he struggled like everyone else.

Posted by: fischy | September 8, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

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