Perry Kitchen returned to practice Wednesday after Monday's heartbreaking Olympic qualifying defeat
Operating on a short week ahead of Friday night's showdown with Dallas, D.C. United underwent a brief practice Wednesday morning. Here are a few notes from the light session, which ended in just over an hour.
Less than 48 hours after seeing his Olympic dreams dashed in the final moments of the United States' 3-3 draw with El Salvador on Monday night, United midfielder Perry Kitchen was back at practice with the Black-and-Red. By now accustomed to the back-and-forth nature of Olympic duty, Kitchen went right back to his familiar role, leading D.C. through a warm-up before doing some light ball work on the side as his teammates took part in small-sided games.
After practice, Kitchen opened up about Monday evening's heartbreak. The 20-year-old midfielder called the Olympics a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity adding that the failure to advance to London was 'tough to swallow'.
Despite playing three games in five days - and suffering a massive emotional letdown - Kitchen responded authoritatively when asked if he'd be ready if called upon Friday night against Dallas.
"Yea, of course. Honestly I think it's a positive to kind of find a rebound," noted United's second-year midfielder. "[To] get my mind off of it and get back with this team. This is now my main goal and focus so I think it will be positive."
D.C. United's second American Olympic entry, goalkeeper Bill Hamid, went off injured in the first half of Monday's match. Head Coach Ben Olsen confirmed that the young goalie would undergo further tests late Wednesday on his left ankle, adding that the preliminary reports on Hamid's health ranged from a sprain to a bone bruise.
"If the scans say he's ready to go and he shows up tomorrow we'll have a decision to make," Olsen told reporters after practice. "I think Joe [Willis] has been fine and we trust Joe if we have to use him."
Olsen's faith in his back-up is understandable. Willis has earned a shutout in two of his five career starts, with both blank sheets coming against Vancouver.
FINAL FOUR FEVER
Just like offices across America, D.C. United's locker room is wrapped up in March Madness. With only three games left before the brackets are officially complete, a pair of wingers are poised to take the title of top hoops prognosticator.
Rookie Nick DeLeon and Chris Pontius enter the Final Four tied for first place. Both midfielders have Kansas winning it all, but DeLeon picked Louisville - his alma mater - to make the national title game alongside the Jayhawks while Pontius chose Kentucky as his other finalist.
"I'll be screaming at the TV for sure," laughed DeLeon, who sports a Louisville tattoo on his right arm.
At the other end of the spectrum is midfielder Danny Cruz. In charge of organizing the friendly locker room competition, Cruz was in last place entering the Sweet 16.