Amid soft breezes, temps in the upper 50s and abundant sunshine, D.C. United trained for about 90 minutes this morning at The Citadel, South Carolina’s military college. The venue was Johnson Hagood Stadium, the 21,000-seat home to the Bulldogs football program. On Wednesday, in its second match of the Carolina Challenge Cup, United will play the Chicago Fire at nearby Daniel Island. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. ET. (Live video available on the DCU Web site.)
Goalkeeper Steve Cronin (broken wrist) and midfielder Junior Carreiro (sprained ankle) did not travel with the delegation.
Rookie goalkeeper Joe Willis will remain with the club for the start of the season, Coach Ben Olsen said. When Cronin is ready in two months or so, United officials will have to make a roster decision. By then, Bill Hamid might have regained the starting job after recovering from his shoulder ailment, allowing Pat Onstad, who came out of retirement last month, to return to his full-time assistant coaching duties.
Hamid will not play in either of the two remaining preseason matches, Olsen said. [More on Hamid’s situation later in this thread.]
Defender-midfielder Devon McTavish (concussion) is here but not allowed to practice. Rookie defender Chris Korb has a shoulder ailment and should return in a few days. Trialist midfielder Brandon Barklage will learn in the next few days what his future holds. (It seems likely the club will offer him a contract.)
Olsen plans to mix things up for Wednesday’s match. Branko Boskovic, Clyde Simms, Jed Zayner and Dejan Jakovic worked out on the side today, a sign that they won’t play against the Fire and will return to the lineup in Saturday’s preseason finale against Toronto FC.
For a variety of updates and observations from Olsen.....
When I asked about Hamid’s status, Olsen was unequivocal.
“Things stand where they always stood with Bill: six months [since the surgery] until he’s cleared. The doctors have been clear about that. Six months is in about five days. That’s when he will be cleared to participate in full activities. He won’t play here. Then we will start allowing him to be in game situations [intrasquad scrimmages, reserve matches]. All signs point to his shoulder being healed. His shoulder is doing very well, but the doctor explained to us that you should wait six months before you allow him to go into full participation. That’s what we are doing.”
How have you dealt with Hamid’s impatience?
“He is a young guy and he is eager to play. I love that about Bill. I was a similar guy. I was always trying to get onto the field when I probably shouldn’t have been on the field.”
You don’t say, Ben?
“Yeah [laughing], I know where he is coming from. I just don’t want to do anything to jeopardize his career. He is going to have a long career. If he went out there five days before the doctor cleared him and got injured, it’s not a good situation. It’s tough for young kids to understand that.”
On Chris Pontius’s best position: “We’ve used him up top, but right now for us, his best position is left midfield. He seems very natural there.”
On Charlie Davies: “He took a few days off [last week] to go back to France. He came back rusty, like most people would. We’ve had to build him back up, and he’s been great. He wants to learn, he’s trying to get better, and get better quickly. He is going to be a guy that can help us throughout the season, whether that is as a guy coming off the bench early or eventually being a starter. We’re still trying to figure that out.”
On the starter at left back, Daniel Woolard or Marc Burch: “It’s a battle. Woolard came in sharper, and a lot of that has to do with Burch being out so long [after recovering from a foot injury]. Burch has made great strides in the last week or two. That’s going to be a tough battle to hold down that spot. Woolard has been very solid, very steady.”
On the formation: “We need to learn this [4-4-2] system. Could that change? Always. We need to stay consistent with it for now.”
Finally, I again pressed Olsen on his selection of captain to replace the retired Jaime Moreno:
“I’ll tell you the captain.....”
“.....on March 19.” [the day of DCU’s MLS opener]
Come on, man.....
“I don’t know why I should.”
Because it’s an honor and people want to know!
“It is an honor. But my focus right now is the group. The group holds each other accountable. It’s not a big deal. I’m sure we’ll have a captain at some point.”
My guess: Dax McCarty.