After a two-day break, United's players returned to training with some good news
With the club’s first international friendly of 2012 less than 48 hours away, D.C. United returned to practice Thursday morning after a two-day break for All-Star activities. Here are a few notes from RFK’s training grounds:
With the club’s first international friendly of 2012 lessthan 48 hours away, D.C. United returned to practice Thursday morning after atwo-day break for All-Star activities. Here are a few notes from RFK’s training grounds:
Just hours after leading the MLS All-Stars to acome-from-behind victory over European Champions Chelsea on Wednesday night,Ben Olsen was back in charge of the Black-and-Red early Thursday. Perhaps hoping to catch a few extrahours of sleep, Olsen had originally scheduled practice for later in the day,but moved training up to 9:30 a.m. in anticipation of 100-degree temperaturesin the Washington area come Thursday afternoon.
With the fanfare of Wednesday’s all-star game behind him,United’s second-year coach had already turned his attention to Paris St.Germain.
“It’s a chance for us to get a game and get some rhythm," explained Olsen. "The summer has been tough for us. We’ve just have had too many weekendsoff. This is a real game. This is as real as we are going to havethis year. This team is impressiveand it’ll be a great test for us.”
While Olsen was quick to move on from Wednesday’s historictriumph, some of his charges were still talking about their teammates' successes in Major League Soccer's showcase event. After practice, Chris Pontius’ 71st-mintute goal and MVP performance were majortopics of discussion.
“In the back of my mind I’m like ‘great I’m going to have tohear about this for weeks’,” joked defender Brandon McDonald – who is close friendswith Pontius. “But I’m happy for him and I think he deserved it. He came on and showed reallywell.”
Asked about Pontius' goal, which was born of a Dwayne De Rosario assist, Olsen acknowledged a rare slip in coaching decorum.
"I jumped up off the bench which I was a little surprised by," he admitted. "So apparently I do like those guys."
Though it took place halfway across the globe, Andy Najar’sOlympic debut was another cause for joy inside United’s dressing room. The 19-year-old midfielder started andplayed the full ninety minutes as Honduras opened Group D play with a 2-2 tieagainst Morocco. Los Catrachos face Spain on Sunday at Newcastle’s legendarySt. James’ Park.
After missing last week's Columbus match with a strained right calf, midfielder Branko Boskovic returned to training on Thursday and participated fully. With a grueling August schedule looming, it would be a mild surprise to see Boskovic deployed against PSG - where the Montenegrin played for two seasons in '03-'04 and '04-'05.