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D.C. United keeps it light

"It’s just about getting back to the basics, having fun, enjoying the game" Dejan Jakovic

Dejan Jakovic - 2013

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USA Today Sports Images

On the third of a string of absolutely beautiful days in the nation’s capital, D.C. United stuck to the theme of the week heading into an off weekend: Keep it light at training. Find fun in playing the game again.

And when so much seems to have gone against United through the opening eight matches of the season, the positivity at training this week, as well as the positive news regarding a handful of injured players, bodes well for the club’s confidence ahead of Wednesday’s home match against Houston (7 pm ET).

“Mentally, it’s just about getting back to the basics, having fun, enjoying the game,” said veteran defender Dejan Jakovic. “Hopefully we can bring some of that success to the field.”

Such has been the trouble for United (1-6-1) this season as they’ve often strung together positive training sessions only to see elements of their game fall apart during the match. The club will take Saturday off before returning to work Sunday in preparation for the Dynamo.

“We’re in this together and it’s a tough time for everybody, but that doesn’t mean at times we can’t still have a smile on our face and try and enjoy our jobs,” United coach Ben Olsen said after Friday’s training. “But it has to be still with this hunger and focus of turning this thing around. The balance was good this week. We’ll see. The test is Wednesday, not how we do this week.”

D.C. will play three of their four matches in May at home, but all three are against difficult opponents in Houston, Kansas City and Portland. Reinforcements, however, could be coming soon.

Midfielder Nick DeLeon hopes to be healthy enough to play against Houston, while midfielder John Thorrington participated in training as a neutral player and Chris Pontius is working his way back from a groin injury that sidelined him last week.

“It’s always nice to see some fresh faces coming back out to training when you’re going through a tough stretch with injuries,” Olsen said. “As these guys come back from injury there will be more competition. And I hope the guys that are on the field understand that it’s their job to try and keep their spot.”