DC Notes: Changes on tap vs. New England
WASHINGTON – A bright sunny day and blue sky welcomed D.C. United back onto the training field Tuesday morning after a triumphant opening weekend.
Pleased with their 3-1 win against the Columbus Crew, the mood was upbeat yet serious as head coach Ben Olsen put his charges through a number of drills, including a rotation of small-sided eight-on-eight scrimmages.
WATCH: Highlights: DC 3, CLB 1
The team emerged from the weekend relatively injury free, although starting right back Jed Zayner had to be subbed out in the second half because of a hamstring injury.
“It’s not as bad as we thought, but it’s still a hamstring [injury],” Olsen told reporters after training. “He’s day-to-day.”
Zayner didn’t participate in practice at all, instead spending time on the side observing and riding an exercise bike for most of the session.
His injury, combined with the departure of defender Perry Kitchen for international duty with the US Under-20s, provides the first lineup-juggling of the year for Olsen and his coaching staff as they prepare to face New England on Saturday. However, the head coach has confidence in his team’s depth.
JOIN OLSEN'S ARMY!
One option would be slotting in new signing Rodrigo Brasesco, who came on for Zayner against Columbus, in the middle of defense and handing a debut to rookie Chris Korb on the right side if Zayner isn’t fit.
“There’s not many guys here on this roster I don’t feel comfortable putting in this game right now,” Olsen said. “That’s a good thing, and I think our depth is pretty solid. And if [Korb] or some other youngsters are called on, it’s not always going to be perfect, there are going to have growing pains, but I’m confident.”
Those decisions will come later this week, as will the decision on who will start up front. The new-look forward line of Josh Wolff and Joseph Ngwenya performed relatively well in the first half before things came to life with Wolff’s tally after the break.
Charlie Davies, of course, made an emphatic case for a starting spot with his two goals in the second half. But Olsen indicated that he was happy with Davies’ role, and he thought Ngwenya put in a good shift from a defensive perspective.
“The role he was in was a very good role for him,” Olsen said of Davies' star cameo off the bench. “He is going to have explosiveness, whether he starts or if he comes into the game – that’s the beauty of Charlie.
“I thought Joe [Ngwenya] struggled a little bit, but also does a lot of work for us. He really keeps the back four on their toes with a lot work, not only offensively but defensively.”
Olsen will have a few more days to tinker with his lineup and evaluate players before making the trip up to Boston on Friday.
Devon McTavish remained on the sidelines with concussion problems. There’s still no timetable for his return.
“I know this is always a tough process,” Olsen said. “He’s seeing all the specialists, going through everything. I know he’s frustrated, as everyone is – the body’s fine but something’s off, and when people don’t have answers for you, it’s really frustrating.”
Junior Carreiro was working out on the side as well, recovering from an ankle injury.