Day one of D.C. United’s 2010 season took place on Monday at R.F.K. Stadium. At about 11 a.m., in about 30 degree weather, the players took the field for the first time in front of a large assembly of local media. The work on the field, however, began a day earlier, as the winter snow storm blanketed the artificial surface on the training ground. D.C. United called all hands on deck to shovel a large portion of the field to make sure the players had an opportunity to have a productive training session.
D.C. United’s new Head Coach Curt Onalfo was quick to show appreciation for the group of people that helped make training possible- the operations crew, team staff, and even assistant coach Ben Olsen, all of whom were actually using snow shovels to clear enough space to play.
Once the session began, the players were divided in to three teams playing 8 v 8 on the full goals in a round robin format. All the players showed a good amount of energy throughout; some of whom are fighting to claim an available roster spot, and others who were just happy to finally put the long off-season behind them.
The three most noteworthy strikes of the day were a powerful, dipping volley which John DiRaimondo blasted into the upper 90, a Chris Pontius laser that made everyone in attendance oooh and aaah, and a Marc Burch free kick that nearly tore through the back of the net.
The Onalfo era is now underway in the nation’s capital. Onalfo preaches that the team will get a little better everyday, but during training one comment seemed to appropriately sum up what the players and coaches are focused on at this time. Onalfo told his players, “The sharpness will come; we need you to make quick decisions now.” The touch and skills might be a little rusty, but the mindset needs to be correct from day one…which is now officially in the books.