On a rainy morning at the RFK Stadium training grounds Tuesday, D.C. United began preparing for its first match since its cup elimination last week and its first league game in almost three weeks – this Saturday night against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
Ben Olsen’s roster is as healthy as it has been in a long time. Branko Boskovic strained a groin muscle in the U.S. Open Cup loss to the Union last Tuesday but is training all out and said he feels fine. Chris Pontius and Robbie Russell are on pace to play again soon after missing time.
Pontius went 62 minutes and scored in a 4-3 reserve division win over Toronto FC on Saturday. Stephen King, Maicon Santos and Hamdi Salihi also scored.
Dwayne De Rosario and Dejan Jakovic will rejoin the club Wednesday following Canada’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras tonight in Toronto.
As far as DeRo’s availability Saturday, “It’s always tough with Dwayne because it doesn’t matter if he had a game on Friday night, he is going to want to play on Saturday,” Olsen said. “I’ll have a discussion with him. We’ll see how the game goes tonight, but we’ll evaluate him when he gets here. He takes good care of himself and tends to do better with more games than less. We can’t be silly about it either.”
Olsen hopes to see a hungrier and more focused team after a subpar performance last week – one that prompted him to make pointed and critical comments.
“You never know until you step on the field in a real game again,” he said. “The focus has been pretty good. The intensity was high today and we understand why we are successful and why we are not successful. That’s an important thing for us to continue remind ourselves about moving forward.”
Said Boskovic: “We are professionals, and it doesn’t matter if it’s an Open Cup game or MLS game, you have to give 100 percent. Last week it was a little bit that we thought it was going to be easy. Philadelphia was stronger, more concentration. We learned from that game and prepare better for this game.”
On the subject of his future with United – his contract expires in July – Boskovic said he hasn’t personally discussed a new deal with the front office but believes his agent has had talks.
Does he want to stay? “Yes, of course, but we will see what D.C. United wants and what the plan is.”
At $409,000, Boskovic has the second-highest base salary on the roster ($545,000 overall), behind De Rosario’s $617,000 ($663,000).