Greetings from Orlando and D.C. United’s final week of training camp. There’s a friendly against Philadelphia on Wednesday evening, a tournament match against the Union on Saturday afternoon, and then the club heads home to begin preparations for the March 2 season opener at Houston.
A few nuggets to share…..
*Danish left back Jan Fredericksen, MLS veteran center back Shavar Thomas and midfielder Joseph Nane were cut, trimming the preseason roster to 32. United plans to have around 27 players under contract before the opener.
*For the print edition, my story examines how D.C. United is the beneficiary of Chivas USA’s decisions to remake its roster.
*United is negotiating with Preston Burpo about becoming the goalkeepers coach to replace Pat Onstad, who moved to Toronto FC. Burpo, who made 57 MLS regular season appearances before retiring two years ago, has served in an interim role for United the past few weeks. He worked for the Montreal Impact last year.
*Joe Willis, the second-choice keeper, has remained in Washington while a bone bruise in his foot heals. With a return date unclear, United has kept trialist Matt VanOekel in camp to work alongside starter Bill Hamid and third-choice Andrew Dykstra.
“It’s been taking a while,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “We’re debating what the situation will be [with the goalkeeping corps]. A lot depends on whether Willis comes around and is going to be healthy. We have Dykstra [as a back-up to Hamid] and we have complete faith in him. But in terms of training, you need several goalkeepers.”
United could end up signing VanOekel (NASL’s Minnesota Stars) to a short-term contract.
*Decisions about the other trialists — Honduran attacker Walter Martinez, Panamanian right wing Marcos Sanchez, Canadian winger Kyle Porter, Ugandan defender Henry Kalungi and forward Ryan Richter — are coming in the next few days.
Martinez and Sanchez have made favorable impressions and Porter “has been pretty good — pretty damn good,” Olsen said. (Martinez has U.S. permanent residency and would not count against the international player limit; Sanchez and Porter would.)
*The four players headed to the third-tier Richmond Kickers for the USL season have still not been determined, “but we have some ideas,” Olsen said. “Once we get the entire roster settled in the next couple of days, we will make some decisions about Richmond.”
Michael Seaton, the 16-year-old homegrown forward, is not a candidate for Richmond because of his age. “We want to keep tabs on him,” Olsen said. “The strides he has made in two weeks has been pretty impressive. He started off the first day struggling in every aspect. He has grown every day and is an exciting prospect. He is exactly the type of guy you want coming out of your academy.”
*The assessment of Indonesian wide midfielder Syansir Alam? “He’s been okay,” Olsen said. “A new league, it’s going to take him a little time to get up to speed. He is technically sound. The physicality [at 5 feet 8 and 148 pounds] of our league is something he is going to have to get used to.”
*How about Brazilian forward Rafael, a young designated player signing? “He’s coming along. There is the transition to a new league, and then when you add his age to it , it adds to the transitional period. Super talented and physically ready for our league. It’s just a matter of him getting his feet under him and showing us he is ready to get minutes.”
*Olsen plans to play trialists and reserves against Philadelphia on Wednesday (6 p.m., at Boster Sports Complex in Deltona, Fla.; no live video). He’ll turn to his regulars for Saturday’s rematch at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. on mlssoccer.com.
United was scheduled to play Toronto FC in the fifth-place match, with Philadelphia facing Sporting Kansas City for third place. But because the Union and Sporting will collide in a regular season opener next week, tournament organizers and the participants agreed to switch the pairings.