During a tough run during April, D.C. United had to deal with a rash of injuries, most notably at both outside back positions. Injuries to three defenders forced players to play in unfamiliar roles, while head coach Ben Olsen also opted to switch formations to cover for the lack of options at left and right back. At the same time, Russell Canouse has also missed the past three games due to an MCL sprain.
The midfielder, who missed most of the first half of the 2018 season with an injury, had become one of the better defensive midfielders in the league since last July, forming a formidable partnership with Junior Moreno.
But with Chris Durkin capable of filling in for Canouse, United took precaution with the former Hoffenheim midfielder, choosing to not rush him back from injury. Canouse told FloFC on Wednesday that he could have played in the game on Sunday against Minnesota United but that the team didn't want to rush him back from the knee ailment.
"I feel good. I was a bit unlucky in (the) timing of the injury, because there were three games in one week. Today was my first time back with the team, and I felt pretty good with my movements," Canouse said after Wednesday's practice.
Two weeks ago, Canouse came off the bench on the road against the Colorado Rapids, as United played their third game in a week. But after that, Canouse missed the 2-0 loss at home against New York City FC to go along with the win at the Columbus Crew and the loss to the Loons.
It wasn't easy for Canouse to watch from the sidelines, but the third-year United player is hoping to come back and quickly make an impact — as soon as this weekend, another game against the Crew.
"It’s always tough watching from the sidelines . . . you want to get in there and make an impact in the game," said Canouse. "I’m glad it was only a week and half, and not a longer-term issue."
Should Canouse return to the starting lineup this weekend, he'll be part of a D.C. team that is looking to overturn a bad run at Audi Field. United have already matched last year's loss total at home and have lost two of their last three games at Buzzard Point, all while failing to score a goal.
That's contrasted with an excellent record away from home, as United won three of their first four away from the nation's capital, with their first loss coming this past weekend in St. Paul. United are hoping that they can turn around their fortunes at home, with Canouse pinpointing a few areas that can help United find the win column once again.
"Every single person needs to show a good mentality. A lot of hard work. Every single play, we can’t take off," Canouse said to FloFC. "Those are the types of foundational things we need to get back to. We have the ability, we’ve shown it. It’s just getting on the same page, and working hard."