#DCU always comes out swingin' when Philly is in town. Don't miss #DCvPHI on September 27: http://t.co/FI7jzRc6Bq pic.twitter.com/qrzWgHiMCk

sebastian salazar

05 September 10:00 am

We look at where the national press puts D.C. in their latest power rankings

After going 2-2-2 in August, D.C. United find themselves entering September with work left to do if the club is to break a four-year postseason hex.  Here, we take a look at some nationwide MLS power rankings to see how the Black-and-Red stack up according to the national media.  

SBNation: Ranked 10th – last week 9th

MLSSoccer.com: Ranked 11th – last week – 11th

What they’re saying:

Probably deserved a win against the Red Bulls, but if you don’t finish your chances you leave yourself vulnerable to Conde-esque wonder goals.  So … that happened.  And then they got Rimando’d in RSL.  Lack of center forward production has simply been killing United.

FoxSoccer.com: Ranked 13th

SoccerAmerica: Ranked 10th – last week 6th

What they’re saying:

If D.C. doesn’t make the playoffs, a point out of games against New York and RSL may bear the brunt of the blame.  United led the Red Bulls, 2-1, at home on Dwayne De Rosario’s 100th MLS goal and another by rookie Nick DeLeon, but conceded an equalizer in the 88th minute.  The 1-0 loss to RSL was its third in the last six matches, yet ended a grueling stretch of five games in 14 days.

Goal.com: Ranked 11th – last week 9th

On average, these five polls have the Black-and-Red ranked as the 11th best side in MLS this week.  Leaguewide, D.C. is tenth in points per game (1.52).

What do you think? Is the national media putting United in the right spot?

20 August 4:43 pm

We asked around the locker room to find out which player is United's fastest

With the Chicago Fire coming to RFK on Wednesday night, get ready to hear a lot about the visitors’ overwhelming speed in the coming days.  Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko and Chris Rolfe combine to give Frank Klopas the fastest forward line in all of MLS. 

But D.C. United has some burners of their own.  On Monday, we took a largely unscientific poll of the Black-and-Red locker room to find out which player is D.C.’s fastest.

With the Chicago Fire coming to RFK on Wednesday night, getready to hear a lot about the visitors’ overwhelming speed in the comingdays.  Dominic Oduro, PatrickNyarko and Chris Rolfe combine to give Frank Klopas the fastest forward line inall of MLS. 

But D.C. United has some burners of their own.  On Monday, we took a largelyunscientific poll of the Black-and-Red locker room to find out which player isD.C.’s fastest.

Of thirteen players asked, four chose Dejan Jakovic.  Another four chose Chris Korb.  Three selected Andy Najar.  Two named Ethan White. 

Below are a few of the best answers.

Chris Pontius when asked about D.C.’s fastest player:

“Wolffy…twenty years ago.”

Joe Willis explaining his choice of Chris Korb:

“It’s beyond me. You look at Korb and you think there is no way this little guy is goingto be faster than me.  But somehowhe is.”

Nick DeLeon:

“I’d say Andy is the quickest.  Fastest [pause] I’d say Korb,”

Pontius (continued):

“I didn’t know I could choose myself.  Then me.”

Chris Korb:

“I don’t think I’d lose to anyone.  I wouldn’t back down from a race." 

Pontius (continued):

“Here’s my Top 5: First, Dejan.  Second, Ethan. Tied for third, Nick and Andy. I’m five.” 

For a historical perspective, we asked two veteran membersof the team staff for their opinion on the fastest player to don aBlack-and-Red jersey during the respective tenures with the club.  Both David Brauzer (Equipment Manager –with team since 2005) and Brian Goodstein (Head Athletic Trainer – with teamsince 2003) chose forward Jamil Walker, who made 41 appearances for D.C. from2005 through 2007.

The Black-and-Red host Chicago Fire on Wednesday, August 22 at 7:30 PM - PURCHASE TICKETS

01 August 12:07 pm

We look at where the national press puts D.C. in their latest power rankings

As D.C. United turns its calendar towards the make-or-break month of August, it’s officially that time of year when scoreboard watching becomes an accepted – and necessary – practice.  As teams start comparing themselves to those around the league, so does everyone else.  We picked five MLS power rankings to see how the rest of America fancies the Black-and-Red’s chances.

Soccer By Ives Ranking: 7, last week – 7

As D.C. United turns its calendar towards the make-or-breakmonth of August, it’s officially that time of year when scoreboard watchingbecomes an accepted – and necessary – practice.  As teams start comparing themselves to those around theleague, so does everyone else.  Wepicked five MLS power rankings to see how the rest of America fancies theBlack-and-Red’s chances.

Soccer By Ives Ranking: 7, last week – 7

MLSSoccer.com Ranking: 7, last week – 9

What they’re saying:  PSG schooled Europeanchamps Chelsea a little more than a week ago, but it was a different storyagainst D.C. in the World Football Challenge.  Saturday’s 1-1 draw will remind MLS teams of the skill,heart and soccer on D.C. when they decide to turn on the switch.  Confidence should be helped after twoleague losses.

ProSoccerTalk Ranking: 6, last week - 7

SoccerAmerica Ranking: 5, last week - 6

SBNation Ranking: 7, last week - 7

What they’re saying:  At the start of July,there was realistic talk about making a run at the Supporters’ Shield.  Now, not so much.  They are still dangerous, but you haveto wonder if some other teams moved past them as United pretty much stuck totheir guns during the transfer window.

Across these five polls, the Black-and-Red – which have thesixth most points per game in MLS – come in with an average ranking of6.4 

What do you think of the power rankings? Does the nationalpress have D.C. in the right spot?

D.C. United takes on the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium this Saturday. Buy tickets

26 July 1:42 pm

After a two-day break, United's players returned to training with some good news

With the club’s first international friendly of 2012 less than 48 hours away, D.C. United returned to practice Thursday morning after a two-day break for All-Star activities.  Here are a few notes from RFK’s training grounds:

With the club’s first international friendly of 2012 lessthan 48 hours away, D.C. United returned to practice Thursday morning after atwo-day break for All-Star activities.  Here are a few notes from RFK’s training grounds:

Just hours after leading the MLS All-Stars to acome-from-behind victory over European Champions Chelsea on Wednesday night,Ben Olsen was back in charge of the Black-and-Red early Thursday.  Perhaps hoping to catch a few extrahours of sleep, Olsen had originally scheduled practice for later in the day,but moved training up to 9:30 a.m. in anticipation of 100-degree temperaturesin the Washington area come Thursday afternoon.

With the fanfare of Wednesday’s all-star game behind him,United’s second-year coach had already turned his attention to Paris St.Germain.

“It’s a chance for us to get a game and get some rhythm," explained Olsen. "The summer has been tough for us.  We’ve just have had too many weekendsoff.  This is a real game.  This is as real as we are going to havethis year.  This team is impressiveand it’ll be a great test for us.”

While Olsen was quick to move on from Wednesday’s historictriumph, some of his charges were still talking about their teammates' successes in Major League Soccer's showcase event. After practice, Chris Pontius’ 71st-mintute goal and MVP performance were majortopics of discussion.

“In the back of my mind I’m like ‘great I’m going to have tohear about this for weeks’,” joked defender Brandon McDonald – who is close friendswith Pontius.  “But I’m happy for him and I think he deserved it.  He came on and showed reallywell.”

Asked about Pontius' goal, which was born of a Dwayne De Rosario assist, Olsen acknowledged a rare slip in coaching decorum.

"I jumped up off the bench which I was a little surprised by," he admitted.  "So apparently I do like those guys." 

OLYMPICS:

Though it took place halfway across the globe, Andy Najar’sOlympic debut was another cause for joy inside United’s dressing room.  The 19-year-old midfielder started andplayed the full ninety minutes as Honduras opened Group D play with a 2-2 tieagainst Morocco. Los Catrachos face Spain on Sunday at Newcastle’s legendarySt. James’ Park.

BOSKOVIC UPDATE:

After missing last week's Columbus match with a strained right calf, midfielder Branko Boskovic returned to training on Thursday and participated fully.  With a grueling August schedule looming, it would be a mild surprise to see Boskovic deployed against PSG - where the Montenegrin played for two seasons in '03-'04 and '04-'05.

06 July 1:10 am

17-year-old impressed D.C.'s first-teamers during recent training stint

Colin Martin playing with D.C. United Reserves

Equal parts excited and anxious, Collin Martin sat alone at a corner locker in D.C. United’s busy dressing room last week.  For the first few days, the latest academy product to be called up to first team training kept to himself - until the Black-and-Red’s captain broke the ice.

Equal parts excited and anxious, Collin Martin sat alone ata corner locker in D.C. United’s busy dressing room last week.  For the first few days, the latest academyproduct to be called up to first team training kept to himself - until the Black-and-Red’scaptain broke the ice.

“Dwayne [De Rosario] came up and told me to hang out withthe guys,” Martin said this week, recounting his recent training stint withD.C.’s senior group.  “They’ve beenreally welcoming and I felt like part of the team, which has been great.  Now, I feel comfortable and all I have toworry about is playing.”

The opening interaction was the first of many between Martinand a group that would both challenge and welcome him over the comingdays.  Moments after a drill last week,Brandon McDonald didn’t hesitate to remind the 17-year-old about the value oflate possession following an ill-timed turnover.  The next day, Ben Olsen and Chad Ashton spenttime after practice hitting balls to the native of Chevy Chase, Maryland. 

“When you aren’t playing with professionals you don’t thinkthat fast and you might not do all the right things,” Martin acknowledged thisweek.  “But when you are playing withthese guys it forces you to think and really makes you a better player.”  

The knowledge gained during his time in a professional environmentwill benefit Martin greatly in the immediate future.  Before heading to ACC-powerWake Forestin the fall, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High Schoolproduct will travel to the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland with the Under-20U.S. National Team. 

The tournament, held in late July, will feature some of theworld’s top young talent and - after training with him for the past week - D.C.’splayers expect Martin to hold his own.

“You can see he has a lot of quality and a lot of upside,”said McDonald.  “If you look at his play,he is ahead of his time.  [The coachingstaff] put him out here for a reason and that is for us to help him.”

“These kids are the future of the club,” added De Rosario.  “The more that we can get them to come up andexperience what it is like to practice with the first team, the more it createsa competitive environment in the youth ranks. Everyone will want to earn their chance.”

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04 June 4:17 pm

United's injury list dwindles as players take advantage of rest

A few notes from around RFK ahead of Tuesday's fourth-round Open Cup match against the Philadelphia Union:

Tuesday’s contest will be D.C. United’s first this year at the Maryland Soccerplex.  The suburban facility seats 3,200 fans but fits closer to 5,000 at full capacity.  Though playing away from home usually ruffles some coaching feathers, Ben Olsen seemed pleased to be heading north.

A few notes from around RFK ahead of Tuesday's fourth-round Open Cup match against the Philadelphia Union:

Tuesday’s contest will be D.C. United’s first this year at theMaryland Soccerplex.  The suburbanfacility seats 3,200 fans but fits closer to 5,000 at full capacity.  Though playing away from home usuallyruffles some coaching feathers, Ben Olsen seemed pleased to be heading north.

“Germantown is always a really nice field,” United’s coachsaid on Monday morning.  “I thinkit is a unique atmosphere for the fans, it’s a little bit more up close andpersonal.”

While United’s players were focused on Philadelphia comeMonday, most had been intently focused on the U.S. – Canada match Sunday nightas teammate Dwayne De Rosario captained Les Rouges in the scoreless draw.  Perry Kitchen has grown close to DeRothis season, but admitted some mixed emotions as he watched the border clash.

“It’s a weird situation,” Kitchen said.  “Of course you wish him the best.”

But?

“Being an American I’m always pulling for my country,” headded with a smile.

United’s injury list continues to dwindle as thoserecovering from ailments heal.  In a very positive sign, midfielder Danny Cruz practiced Monday after straining hishamstring in a 3-1 victory over Toronto on May 19.  Chris Pontius practiced fully but when asked if Tuesday’s matchwould be too soon for a return, the midfielder/forward responded in theaffirmative.

30 May 2:34 pm

Nine hours after returning to RFK, D.C. United went back to work early Wednesday

After a grueling extra time win over Richmond in U.S. Open Cup Tuesday night, D.C. United’s players returned to Washington shortly after midnight Wednesday morning.  Less than nine hours later they were back at RFK, some participating in regenerative exercises while others took part in a light training session.

A few leftovers from Open Cup plus some training nuggets:

After a grueling extra time win over Richmond in U.S. OpenCup Tuesday night, D.C. United’s players returned to Washington shortly aftermidnight Wednesday morning.  Lessthan nine hours later they were back at RFK, some participating in regenerativeexercises while others took part in a light training session.

A few leftovers from Open Cup plus some training nuggets:

Tuesday’s victory against the Kickers ensured D.C.’sadvancement to the Open Cup’s ‘Sweet 16’ next week.  The Black-and-Red will face archrival Philadelphia nextTuesday at the club’s second home.

“We love going to the Maryland Soccerplex,” head coach BenOlsen said Wednesday.  “We getgreat support there and we are really looking forward to it.  We are healthy and will be putting avery good team out there.”

With a majority of his players remaining inside RFK for‘regen’, Olsen’s practice had a very intimate feel to it.  One highlight was Robbie Russell’spresence, as the right back returned to training following a brief layoff dueto a left hamstring strain. Despite missing United’s last three matches, Russell is one of only fiveplayers on the roster to have both started every game in which he has appearedand to have already registered over 1,000 minutes this season.

 

While the Black-and-Red’s field players enjoyed a ratherlight day, the same cannot be said for D.C.’s goalkeepers.  Pat Onstad put both Joe Willis and BillHamid through a full workout before the team concluded the session with someclose-range shooting exercises. Willis, who made three saves in Tuesday’s triumph, was fresh off hisfirst game action since May 2.

“I didn’t have a lot to do,” Willis said modestly after thematch.  “I thought I did alright,it was definitely pretty good for my confidence and I felt pretty good aboutit.”

The lone goal surrendered against Richmond came from thepenalty spot, and Willis was reminded of it at the tail end of Wednesday’spractice.  United wrapped the briefsession with a penalty shootout that ended with Hamid and Willis squaring offagainst each other.  Neither goalieproved capable of breaking the deadlock, but the exercise could prove fruitfulin the long run.  D.C.’s last OpenCup meeting with Philadelphia ended in – you guessed it – penalty kicks, asUnited took the shootout 4-2 at the Maryland Soccerplex back in April 2011. 

Finally, many of United’s players will be in attendance atFedExField tonight as the U.S. Men’s National Team squares off against Brazilin a highly anticipated friendly. Not all, however, will be sympathetic to the Yanks’ cause.

“Brazil for sure, what are you talking about?” BrazilianMaicon Santos exclaimed when asked for a prediction.  “Three to nothing. I’m confident man!”

While United’s locker room has been free of discord so farthis season, those comments may test clubhouse unity.  Midfielder Perry Kitchen sounded slightly less confident, butequally bold, in his prediction for Wednesday night.

“2-1,” Kitchen said, pausing for effect.  “U.S.A.” 

24 May 3:57 pm

Chris Pontius hopes to return to action Saturday against New England

With temperatures approaching 80 degrees and few clouds in the sky, D.C. United endured one of their hottest training sessions of the year on Thursday.  Here are a few notes from practice: 

PONTIUS EYES RETURN

After ripping off five goals during a six-match stretch through late April and early May, Chris Pontius took a spell on the club's injury list.  The victim of a strain in his gluteus medius, the club’s second-leading scorer was an unused substitute in each of United’s last two matches.

With temperatures approaching 80 degrees and few clouds inthe sky, D.C. United endured one of their hottest training sessions of the yearon Thursday.  Here are a few notesfrom practice: 

PONTIUS EYES RETURN

After ripping off five goals during a six-match stretchthrough late April and early May, Chris Pontius took a spell on the club's injury list.  The victim of a strain in his gluteus medius, the club’ssecond-leading scorer was an unused substitute in each of United’s last twomatches.

With Pontius sidelined, D.C.’s attack remained potent asDwayne De Rosario and Hamdi Salihi combined for five goals.  The Californian wasn’t happy to misstime, but says the resulting diversity in United’s attack could pay dividendsdown the road.

“We’ve done extremely well,” said Pontius.  “We’ve had so many lineups and every game someone hasstepped up.  It’s hard to defend usas a team and that’s obviously going to make us better throughout the season.”

HEATING UP

Among the casualties of United’s loaded early schedule havebeen Ben Olsen’s training sessions. Of the last five weeks on the calendar, three have seen D.C. playmidweek matches.  That has cut downdrastically on the amount of actual training that can occur as the Black-and-Red scrambledto prepare for games with minimal build-up.

That hasn’t been the case this week, as D.C. are finally enjoying a full week of practice.  The sessions have been both intense and fast-paced, andfollowing Thursday’s training Olsen spoke about his approach.

“We’ve had a week of training, which he haven’t had in awhile,” acknowledged United’s second-year coach.  “When you have a full week it’s important to - at some point - really push the guys and make sure they are getting something out of theweek.  But it has been a finebalance because there’s been a lot of guys nicked up and we need to rest them aswell.”

EYE ON LIBERTADORES

Emiliano Dudar trained fully on Thursday and appears to berecovered from the hamstring strain that has kept him out since coming off injuredin D.C.’s 3-2 win over Houston on April 28.  United’s defense has conceded just two goals over its lastfour matches, but could certainly benefit from the veteran Argentine’scommanding aerial presence and distribution skills out of the back.

But as Dudar was preparing to head home for the afternoon,all he wanted to talk about was Thursday’s impending Copa Libertadores clashbetween Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield and Brazilian giants Santos.  Velez is Dudar’s original club, forwhom he made 63 appearances over three years between 2000 and 2003.  Velez won the first leg of thequarterfinal match-up 1-0 in Argentina.

“I always read the reports from Brazil and I think theBrazilians are very confident that they will win the game,” Dudar said, tradinghis player hat for that of an analyst… or fan.  “But from my point of view, Velez will play a very smartmatch and they can even win [in Brazil]. Either way, Velez will surely advance because they have a superior side.”

23 May 6:11 pm

Nick DeLeon continues to improve and DeRo picks a few of his favorite goals

As his team continues preparations for Saturday's critical Eastern Conference showdown against New England, Ben Olsen closed practice to the media on Wednesday morning. Here are a few notes from after the session.

DELEON HOPEFUL

After a sensational start to his rookie season,Nick DeLeon has had to deal with the frustrations of missing time.  A hamstring strain has essentiallyrobbed the dangerous winger of the last month, but after training on WednesdayDeLeon said his injured left leg felt 'fine' and that he was hopeful forinclusion in Saturday's gameday roster.

"When you are injured you are always goingto lose fitness," admitted D.C.'s Rookie of the Year candidate. "As much as you want to ride a bike or whatever, game fitness is adifferent kind of fitness all together. When you start to come back you just have to bust your butt to get thatextra fitness back.  That's whereI'm at right now."

DeLeon's absence hasn't hit D.C. as hard asmight have been expected considering he tallied three goals and three assistsover his first nine games as a pro. But with Danny Cruz's injury, United's wing depth will be tested throughthe next months in both league and U.S. Open Cup play.

BEST OF HIS BEST

Dwayne De Rosario has scored some great goalsin his 12-year MLS career.  AsD.C.'s captain sits just two tallies shy of reaching the 100-goal career mark,he took some time to name a few of his favorite strikes after Wednesday'straining.  In no particular order he chose:

This free kick against the L.A. Galaxy:

This volley against D.C. United. (Sorry):

And one goal we couldn't find video of.  A strike which came an MLS-record 11seconds into a 2003 match against the Dallas Burn.

To what does DeRo credit his flair for thespectacular?

"I was in the right place at the righttime," chuckled the reigning MVP of Major League Soccer.  "I closed my eyes every time I hitit."

14 May 2:00 pm

Monday's training saw some hopeful signs for those on D.C.'s injury list

With injuries mounting after a challenging three-match road trip, Ben Olsen gave most of his starters the day off from full training on Monday in anticipation of another stretch where United will play twice in four days.  Emiliano Dudar, Marcelo Saragosa and Nick DeLeon all worked off to the side and Olsen said evaluations will be made tomorrow on the trio of potential returnees. 

While acknowledging his team's health concerns, Olsen ruled out one intriguing possibility for bolstering D.C.'s roster.

With injuries mounting after a challengingthree-match road trip, Ben Olsen gave most of his starters the day off fromfull training on Monday in anticipation of another stretch where United willplay twice in four days.  EmilianoDudar, Marcelo Saragosa and Nick DeLeon all worked off to the side and Olsensaid evaluations will be made tomorrow on the trio of potential returnees. 

While acknowledging his team's health concerns,Olsen ruled out one intriguing possibility for bolstering D.C.'s roster.

When someone jokingly asked if he could sign himself to the team. D.C.'s second yearcoach admitted, "I would love to. I've been trying to talk uppermanagement into that for two and a half years now."

A more realistic option would be to call backConor Shanosky, who has played in both midfield and central defense while onloan with the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL.  The loan was a full year deal, but if needed, Olsen saidShanosky could be recalled.

"If it got out of hand to the point wherewe needed bodies," Olsen said of a potential mid-season move for theformer United Academy product. "But I'm trying not to, because Conor is in a good rhythm overthere and he's really getting invaluable experience that is crucial for hisdevelopment." 

With Perry Kitchen's injury against Houston, aShanosky call-up might become a necessity should the central midfield spotsuffer any more injuries in the coming weeks.  After training Monday, there was no update as to theseverity of the damage to Kitchen's right knee while the club awaited theresults of an MRI.

Also of note, Dejan Jakovic continued his full participation intraining as the Canadian international recovers from an ankle sprain.  Jakovic said he was "not a hundredpercent fit" but that his injured left foot "feels a lotbetter."

Wednesday's contest against Colorado will be the first of a welcome three-game homestand for the Black-and-Red.  Toronto FC will visit RFK on Saturday followed by New England a week later.  Kickoff against the Rapids is schedule for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.