DC looking healthy again after bout of sickness

Ben Olsen happy with understudies' performances during absences

Ben Olsen

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WASHINGTON – Last week D.C. United players were dropping like flies.

Prior to Saturday’s game against Toronto, a flu-like bug had been making its way through a number of first-team players. Perry Kitchen, who had picked up a bug while away at Guatemala, trained intermittently throughout the week. Andy Najar was a late scratch ahead of Toronto and Dejan Jakovic came out of that game in the 73rd minute, hampered with an illness.

But after a couple days rest, DC are looking healthy ahead of Thursday’s match against New York (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2/ESPN Deportes), according to Ben Olsen.

“It seems like it’s leaving,” he told reporters after training. “It was like every other day there was a guy coming in, but I think it’s for the most part through us. Physically I think we’re in a pretty good spot, having a lot of choices on my end and that’s a good thing.”

With the ailment departing the club, it gives Olsen a number of options in his starting lineup. Rookie Perry Kitchen said he’s back to 100 percent and will look to reclaim his starting spot against the Red Bulls.

There are still a few long-term injuries lingering. Right back Jed Zayner continues to be held out of training with a hamstring problem he picked up in the season opener against Columbus. Devon McTavish continues to be sidelined with a concussion problem. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Steve Cronin (at right) is back in training after fracturing his wrist in preseason.

Olsen said the club is being very cautious with Zayner in particular, who had a setback prior to the U.S. Open Cup play-in game against Philadelphia.

“Jed’s slowly coming along,” he said. “We’re going to be real safe and make sure we get it right so we can have him for the rest of the year.”

The situation with Cronin could mean Pat Onstad transitioning back into a coaching role only. Bill Hamid has started the last two games and continues to improve under the guidance of Onstad.

But Olsen said the team will take plenty of time to make a decision and ease Cronin back into things.

“Every day he looks sharper, and that’s to be expected as he’s been out a little bit," Olsen said. "We’ll be patient with him. I know he wants to get back in the mix, so we’ll make that decision when we have to.”

Though the various injuries and illnesses have hampered Olsen’s selection problems early on this year, they've also helped give some younger players a chance to get some experience and improve the team’s overall depth.

“[Chris] Korb’s done a pretty good job filling in for [Zayner]. Ethan’s done a pretty good job filling while Perry was gone,” he said. “That’s what this is about. We need to be deep and get guys experience and the guys that have come in have done a pretty good job.”