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Injury to DP Gallardo devastating for D.C.
by Ridge Mahoney, October 7th, 2008 7AM

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[MLS] As the Galaxy and Red Bulls have learned, tying up a huge salary and grand expectations in one (Designated) player can be risky. Marcelo Gallardo is this year's case in point.


A sprained medial collateral ligament will sideline him for the rest of the season, which for D.C. consists of three must-win league matches and three mostly irrelevant Concacaf Champions' League games. He suffered the injury Saturday at RFK in a 3-0 loss to Chivas USA and came off in the 70th minute.

Gallardo, the third-most expensive player in the league, after David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco, at an annual salary of $1.9 million, scored four goals and three assists in 15 league games and failed to contribute much to the team's international competitions. Sports hernia surgery and a strained adductor muscle kept him out of three SuperLiga games and the first three CCL matches; D.C. lost all six.

D.C. won four of the five MLS games in which he recorded a goal or an assist. In the other 10 games, D.C. won just two (2-6-2).

Gallardo scarcely contributed to United's Open Cup triumph, playing just 10 minutes in the final against Charleston, and though he played in all four Champions' Cup matches against Harbour View and Pachuca in March and April, he earned just one assist.

D.C. plays Deportivo Saprissa Thursday in Costa Rica and at Houston on Sunday. Its travel roster for the Costa Rica trip will be announced Tuesday and is expected to include mainly reserves and backups, so the regulars can be rested to face Houston.

United (10-14-3, 33 points) is in fifth place in the Eastern Conference; the top three teams in each conference qualify automatically, and D.C. is nine points behind the third-place Fire, so its faint hopes depend on finishing either seventh or eighth on overall points.

In the race for seventh and eighth, it trails conference rival New York by two points, and is one point behind Colorado and FC Dallas, which are tied for fourth in the Western Conference.

Of the playoff hopefuls, D.C. plays the toughest remaining schedule: against the top three teams, all of which have clinched playoff spots. After the Dynamo, it hosts New England Oct. 16 on ESPN2, and heads to Columbus for its Oct. 26 season finale.

The Crew will have clinched the Supporters' Shield by then but unless United can sweep its next two games, both teams will be playing for pride.

 



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