Sometimes even the weather in Southern California can throw a wrench in preseason plans.
D.C. United, currently training out west, had to make a small change over the weekend thanks to a torrential downpour. The weather forced a friendly against PDL side Ventura County Fusion, originally scheduled for Saturday, to be pushed to Sunday.
That and another friendly Tuesday night against UC Santa Barbara meant the last few days were quite busy indeed – a fact players are feeling now.
“A few guys are a little sore today so we have to be a little bit wary of that and make sure we don’t all of a sudden start popping up with injuries,” assistant coach Chad Ashton told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “For the most part, we’ve come out of it pretty healthy.”
Coming away healthy was the most important thing stressed by Ashton, and on top of that, DC managed to win both games – they defeated the Fusion 3-1, and escaped Santa Barbara with a 1-0 victory.
Star of both games was Supplemental pick Blake Brettschneider, who scored twice against the Fusion and bagged the winner vs. the Gauchos despite only playing briefly in both games. Ashton was quick to praise the first-year forward’s tallies.
“All three [goals] were very good finishes and we’re very happy with how he’s coming along,” Ashton said.
Playing in goal for DC in a half of each friendly was assistant coach-turned-'keeper Pat Onstad. The 43-year-old didn’t concede a goal in either appearance and made a good impression.
“He looked very good," said Ashton. "He didn’t have a ton to do in either game, but his biggest qualities are his leadership and his communication, so he’s solving problems for us before they happen.”
Promising young 'keeper Bill Hamid is still recovering from shoulder surgery, but is coming along, Ashton said. Meanwhile, Onstad is a little bit further behind fitness-wise as he wasn’t expecting to be in this role in March.
Over the next three weeks, both will be competing to earn the starting spot when the season opens on March 19.
“Bill is progressing well, but we’re not sure if he will be ready opening day,” Ashton said. “Basically they’re both shooting to be ready opening day and both competing for the starting spot.”
On Friday, D.C. United will get a chance to face MLS opposition for the first time this preseason, as they’ll travel to the Home Depot Center to take on Chivas USA. That will give the coaching staff a chance to get an even better idea of where the team stands.
“I think we’re ready to knock heads with some MLS teams and we’ll probably get a better picture when we do that,” Ashton said. “We’re very happy with the team chemistry and how things have gone.”
The team returns to Washington on Saturday.