Greetings from Lowcountry — Charleston, S.C., not the Netherlands.
With the sky spitting a fine mist, D.C. United trained for about two hours at The Citadel on Monday. Special guest in the audience -- in fact, the only guest in the closed session — was Coach Ben Olsen’s father, Dana, a Pennsylvania resident who is heading back north after touring the Florida Keys.
United ended the session with a full-field scrimmage. The primary group included Robbie Russell, Brandon McDonald, Emiliano Dudar and Brazilian trialist Guilherme across the back, Andy Najar, trialist Seth C’deBaca, Branko Boskovic and Chris Pontius in midfield, and Josh Wolff and Hamdi Salihi up front.
Dwayne De Rosario, who is slated to partner with Salihi, worked on the side, mindful of a mild groin strain.
“We’re just being smart,” Olsen said. “We want to make sure it’s strong before really grind him out every day.”
Two other projected starters, goalkeeper Bill Hamid and defensive midfielder Perry Kitchen, are scheduled to rejoin the club from U.S. under-23 national team camp Friday. Their arrival would leave Saturday’s Carolina Challenge Cup finale against the Columbus Crew as the last chance for the top unit to play together before the March 10 season opener against Sporting Kansas City at RFK Stadium.
“We have to evaluate them physically and see how many minutes they get on Wednesday” in the U-23 friendly against Mexico in Frisco, Tex., Olsen said.
“Of course, we would like to see them in the game Saturday. We haven’t had that luxury of to the point. It would be nice to get all that sorted out for Saturday, but the MLS Cup isn’t against Kansas City. We’re not going to be peaking against Kansas City. The way our preseason has gone, we haven’t had the whole group together that much. So we’re trying to speed that process up as quick as possible. It would help to have that group we plan to start against Kansas City together a week before.”
After defeating the Chicago Fire, 1-0, in the tournament opener last Saturday, United will play its second match Wednesday night against the third-division host club, the Charleston Battery, at Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island.
Brazilian trialist Alfred Martins, a forward, was released before the Charleston trip. Other roster decisions aren’t likely until after the team returns to Washington on Sunday.
C’deBaca, Guilherme, Lance Rozeboom and Ryan Richter remain in contention for contracts. Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra, a trialist since the start of camp, said he has reached a deal with United, although the club hasn’t formally announced it. [UPDATE: It’s now official.]
“We’ll start to make some decisions after this camp,” Olsen said. “We still want to see some guys and how they do. Most likely, [after Saturday] will be the timeframe.”