As preparations gear up for Sunday's match against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Head Coach Ben Olsen closed Wednesday's practice to the media. Nevertheless, here are a few storylines from around RFK as United ramp up for the defending champions.
[inline_node:21775]With yesterday's news of Andy Najar's call-up to the Honduran Under-23 side, the United midfielder was all smiles after Wednesday's training session. Because Honduras is training in Los Angeles, Najar will play with D.C. on Sunday before joining Los Catrachos.
As for how Najar will be used by Honduras, the 18-year-old seems open to pretty much anything.
"I'm ready for wherever the coach decides to put me," Najar said when asked about his position in a spanish-language interview on Wednesday. "Just because you have a preferred position, doesn't mean you don't have to learn other positions as well. Wherever I end up playing, I will give my all for the team."
Najar and his Honduran teammates are in CONCACAF's Group B, which will play at the Home Depot Center. They'll face Panama (3/23), Mexico (3/25) and Trinidad & Tobago (3/27).
NEAL JOINS THE MIX
Over a twelve-year career, Lewis Neal has worked tirelessly towards one goal ... playing top-flight soccer. Until this week that goal had eluded the Englishman, but after signing with the Black-and-Red on Tuesday, the 30-year-old is ready to contribute right away.
"In my career I've played all across the midfield whether it's from the left to the right," Neal said when asked about where he might fit in to Ben Olsen's plans. "I like to get the ball down and play, and keep the ball. I've got a pretty trusty left foot, I like to think. Hopefully I'll be able to show the D.C. United fans - when I get an opportunity - what I can do."
A comfortable and efficient player on the ball, Neal will be expected to provide cover in midfield as the season wears on. The left-footed player is likely to back-up Chris Pontius, but can also play in a central role.
POP UP TOP
When United faces Los Angeles on Sunday, there's a chance that two of the most prolific scorers in all of Major League Soccer will be on display.
Hamdi Salihi brought 163 career goals with him when the Albanian striker signed with the Black-and-Red late last month, a number that is bested by only a trio of MLS players.
1 - Thierry Henry (326)
2 - Kris Boyd (208)
3 - Robbie Keane (188)
We'll have to wait until Sunday to see if Bruce Arena uses Keane, as the Galaxy forward is likely to have played in three games over a seven-day stretch.