DC prefer health over trophy in preseason finale

United's assistant coach says chief objective is to avoid injury

With only one week remaining before opening the 2011 regularseason, D.C. United get one last crack at MLS opposition in the club’s finalpreseason game against Toronto FC on Saturday night (streamed at dcunited.com and torontofc.ca at 5 pm ET).

The match also serves as an opportunity for some silverware. After wins in their first two matches in Charleston, S.C., another victory or a draw against TFC clinches the Carolina Challenge Cup for D.C. United.

For assistant coach Chad Ashton and the rest of United’scoaching staff, the positive performances have been a good step, but they areby no means reading into them too much.

“It’s good to get results, it’s good to pick up someconfidence,” Ashton told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “But at the same time, look at it facevalue: It’s preseason, people are experimenting and the results really don’tget you anything other than a little bit of confidence heading into theseason.”

Confidence is surely a good thing for DC, which is in thefinal stages of rebuilding its squad after an offseason roster overhaul.

A 7-0-1 preseason record is a good sign, but all but two ofthose games were against lower level opposition. D.C. United know how muchpreseason results can be deceiving. Last year United went unblemished in the2010 preseason before experiencing a very difficult regular season.

The biggest priority for Saturday’s match against Toronto isto get through the final game without picking up any major injuries tosignificant players. The club emerged unscathed from Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Chicago as far asinjuries are concerned.

However, players will be closely monitored and held back, ifnecessary, with the regular season looming so closely. Ashton indicated thatfour to five players have experienced tightness and suffered “little knocks” duringthe tournament and the technical staff will play it safe with them.

“For the most part, everybody who was available both fromthe first game and [Wednesday’s] game we will consider for this final game andwe’ll try and manage minutes and accomplish a few things,” Ashton said. “But I think we just want to get out of it injury-free andreally ready to go into the first week of the season healthy with as manyoptions as possible with regards to our roster.”