New schedule, clean slate for DC

United preparing for opener vs. Crew, optimistic about new season

With the announcement of the 2011 MLS Schedule on Thursday, D.C. United continue to look forward to a new chance to set things straight.

“There’s a lot of optimism,” assistant coach Chad Ashton told MLSsoccer.com. “I think we’re excited to get back and start … with a clean slate after having a tough year.”

United open the year at home against the Columbus Crew on March 19. They will then hit the road to face New England a week later and Colorado on April 3.

April also brings home matchups against rivals New York and Los Angeles.

Now that the team knows the full slate of 2011, the reality is setting in that a new season is around the corner, although several weeks of preseason work remains ahead.

“[The schedule] gives you something concrete to really latch on to and see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to preseason training,” sais Ashton.

The assistant also recognized that it’s tempting to look ahead and begin to plan out different portions of the year, but he knows that things never go the way you anticipate.

“For the most part, you can always try to break down a schedule and say ‘This is going to be the difficult part of it, this is going to be an easier stretch,’” he said. “No matter how you draw it up in your mind it, never really goes down the way you see it happening.”

As the team continues to prepare in Florida, followed by camps in California and South Carolina, the sole focus is on preparing and being set to welcome the Columbus Crew to RFK Stadium in March.

“Each part of the season, you try and break it down into different parts. But for right now, all we’re looking at is game one,” said Ashton.

2011 schedule

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at travismclavy@gmail.com and on Twitter: @travismclark.