Chris Odoi-Atsem, D.C. United's second-year defender from the University of Maryland, woke one morning about six weeks ago with chest pain and shortness of breath.
His short career had already been interrupted by bone spurs in the left ankle, compartment syndrome in both calves and, most recently, general fatigue. The team had begun to wonder whether its 2017 first-round draft pick — a Mitchellville, Maryland, resident — was going to cut it in MLS.
But on this day, after his mother drove him to an urgent care center in Bowie, Odoi-Atsem learned something much more serious was ailing him. He had a 7.5-centimeter mass growing in his chest.
Two biopsies later, Odoi-Atsem...