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Wednesday training notes

22 February 5:57 pm

Wednesday training notes

By Sebastian Salazar

Boskovic prepares for key preseason action

Under unseasonably warm conditions, D.C. United held their final practice before departing for Charleston, SC on Wednesday afternoon. Below are some of the highlights as the Black-and-Red made final preparations for the Carolina Challenge Cup.

BRANKO'S BACK

United opened Wednesday's session with some possession games. In one of them, Branko Boskovic and Dwayne De Rosario served as 'neutral' players, playing only offense for whichever team had the ball. The dynamic pair seemed more than comfortable being the focal point of the drill.

2011 was all but a wash for Boskovic, who tore his ACL early in the season. Now recovered, his passing was on full display in the small-sided affair, offering up one and two-touch combinations that split defenders again and again.

"I've been here two years. I know Chris [Pontius] and Andy [Najar], DeRo, everybody," the Montenegrin international said after practice. "Hamdi [Salihi] is not new for me either. I think we know each other and we just need everybody to be fit and we are going to have a very good team."

Just 1,843 people were at the Maryland SoccerPlex to see it, but Boskovic's last performance for the Black-and-Red was also his best. In a late-April U.S. Open Cup match against New England, he scored twice and dominated play before coming off injured.

RACE AGAINST THE CLOCK

Returning from any injury can be daunting, but a broken leg is a completely different matter. United midfielder Chris Pontius is one of a handful of promising MLS players looking to overcome that specific hurdle in 2012.

Another talented youngster recovering from a broken leg - Seattle midfielder Steve Zakuani - said in a recent interview that one of the last things to return is the explosiveness that often defines an attacking player. On Wednesday Pontius acknowledged that his injury - though serious - was less complex than Zakuani's, and that what's missing at this point has more to do with the Californian's mind as opposed to his leg.

"I've sat and watched practices all year and it's not like being out on the field having to make quick decisions," Pontius admitted. "I'm a little bit rusty on the ball at times and my decision making is slow."

Pontius may be his own harshest critic. Watching the 24-year-old patrol the flank in practice one would never know he suffered such a traumatic injury less than six months ago. Pontius said he hopes to get some longer minutes in Charleston to boost his match fitness ahead of the March 10 opener against Kansas City.

CONTINUING TO IMPRESS

He's only been with the team three days, but Brazilian trialist Guilherme continues to impress.

United spent much of Wednesday's session doing 3-v-2 and 2-v-1 attacking exercises. On consecutive turns, the Botafogo player slammed a close-range effort past Andrew Dykstra and then curled a shot from distance around Joe Willis' 6-foot-5 frame.

We'll learn more about Guilherme's abilities as a one-on-one defender in Charleston, but his offensive skill set is certainly the type that gets personnel evaluators excited.

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