United’s Head Coach and Head Athletic Trainer talk about the first day of preseason
An energetic Ben Olsen and coaching staff greeted players this morning as D.C. United officially reconvened at RFK Stadium for the start of 2012 preseason.
We asked United’s Head Coach about the first day with the group.
What are your initial thoughts on having the group back together again?
Olsen: “It’s always nice when everybody comes back together. We have a few new faces and several trialists in our group, so it’s a good day to get re-acquainted with everyone. This week will involve a lot of physical preparation to make sure we know where everybody is standing, so we can move ahead with more intensity. It was a great day to get back to work, and I think there is a really positive vibe right now.”
There are several key players coming back from injuries, such as Branko Boskovic, Chris Pontius and Ethan White. How is their recovery process coming along?
Olsen: “Branko is ready to go, Chris is moving along very well, and Ethan is jogging. Everybody is moving along at a really good pace. Hopefully in the next week or two we will have a full squad, with everybody healthy. Preseason is a long journey and you have plenty of time to get these guys fit. As much as we want them back, we need to be smart and patient and make sure we are not pushing them too quickly.”
How did 2012 SuperDraft pick Nick DeLeon do on his first day?
Olsen: “He came in today and got acquainted with the guys and saw how we do things around here. We will know more about him going forward, but he seems like a good kid and really eager to learn and work out here.”
Speaking of draft picks, with the departure of Clyde Simms, what are your thoughts on Perry Kitchen filling in the role of defensive midfielder this season?
Olsen: “I don’t think it’s any secret that our plans with him were to put him centrally [in midfield]. We think he has a lot of qualities that are going to make us a better team in that central area. It’s a key area, and Perry has both the leadership qualities and physical presence to get us to another level. He is dealing with turf toe, but should be ready to go in the next couple of days.”
BEGINNING OF 'A LONG JOURNEY'
As Olsen mentioned, United's preseason is "a long journey" and with several phases. D.C. United Head Athletic Trainer Brian Goodstein emphasized Olsen's point and said the focus is to have the team ready for First Kick 2012 on March 10 against Sporting KC.
How did the guys look on the first day?
Goodstein: "Good. We are just getting to know these guys. The first week is a gradual introduction process and getting baseline fitness as a group."
What's next this week?
Goodstein: "We are running the Cooper Test tomorrow. Wednesday is the beep test."
What are the goals for preseason?
Goodstein: "The big goal is to get ready for the opener, to get ready to peak in the middle [of the season] and get ready to peak for playoffs and make these guys champions."