A strained medical collateral ligament will keep Fabián Espíndola out of action for the next six weeks.
The DC United forward suffered the injury in the opening seconds of United’s 4-2 win against Montreal Impact on a rash challenge by Felipe Martins. Espíndola would soldier on for 45 minutes, creating three goals.
Espíndola should miss at least four MLS games and he’ll definitely be out for his team’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup clash against Rochester on Tuesday. DC is the reigning Open Cup champion and the star striker’s absence will be felt.
United is top of the Eastern Conference with 25 points from 15 games. Espíndola is the main reason why Ben Olsen’s team has a 7-4-4 record. After being acquired during the 2013 Re-Entry Draft, he leads United with seven goals, three shy of his career best, and has added a career high eight assists.
The former Real Salt Lake has been miles better than his Designated player strike partner, Eddie Johnson. Unlike Johnson, Espíndola is extremely versatile, creative and has adapted well to Olsen’s system.
The 29-year-old veteran has combined well with Chris Rolfe to be the creative gem for United. In just 15 appearances, he has created 41 scoring chances. That’s 27 chances more than any player on United’s payroll.
On the stat sheet, Rolfe is second to Espíndola in goals scored and goals created.
The Argentine has been clinical in front of goal this season. According to squawka, 52 percent of his shots have been on target.
The mobile forward uses his movement and silky smooth footwork to create space for himself and his teammates, which is why he’s capable of playing as a No.9 or in behind the center forward.
This season, he’s dazzled as the second striker, scoring some magnificent goals. When Espíndola scores a goal, United has only lost once.
Besides his scoring prowess, Espíndola has also accepted the playmaker responsibilities. He drifts out wide, drops into the middle and on counter-attacks; he’s the go-to man.
An example of Espíndola’s ability of using the width of the field was his first assist against the Impact.
The forward pulled out wide, stretching the defense, and laid the ball back into the middle. The ball circled back to him and he put it on a platter for Luis Silva to score his first goal of the season.
Espíndola proved to be a key factor on Silva’s second goal of the game against the Impact. DC’s No.9 was inside the center circle when he received a pass. He shielded the ball with his body and left it for Silva to drive at the goal and score an absolute beauty.
Espíndola showed how dangerous he can be on fast breaks against Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo was the best team, but United scored two unanswered goals. Both goals came off counter-attacks and Espíndola scored one and created the other.
With the forward sidelined, Olsen loses his most important player. Without the MVP candidate, last season’s worst team will struggle offensively.
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