With the majority of players wearing beanies, long pants and long sleeves – save Indianapolis native Perry Kitchen who sported short sleeves – D.C. United are ready to head back to Florida following a brief three-day training stint in Arlington, Va.
“It’s never easy, these couple days,” United coach Ben Olsen said. “You try to get stuff done, but it’s windy, you’re on turf and it’s a little frustrating to be honest, so it’ll be nice to get back to some warm weather.”
Olsen continued to say that the preseason, thus far, has been a bit disjointed. With Dwayne De Rosario and Dejan Jakovic away with Canada’s National Team for a while and Bill Hamid training with the U.S. National Team, plus injuries and a handful of newcomers, United haven’t been able to hit their stride quite yet.
“It’s frustrating when you don’t have your own group because you want to start working on things, but you know you don’t have everybody ready,” Olsen said. “You want to be smart, but you want to speed it up. Once Orlando comes, we’ll start, hopefully, getting everybody back and ready to go and we’ll work on our fitness.”
United will spend the next eight days competing at the Walt Disney World Wide World of Sports tournament near Orlando. They will play three matches, beginning Saturday with a tilt against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, followed by matches against Sporting KC and Montreal. In addition to getting acclimated to the newcomers, center back Brandon McDonald is ready for the competition to ramp up a bit in Florida.
“[It’s about] Conditioning and games, and getting on the same page, really,” McDonald said. “We’re bringing a lot of the same guys back so I think everybody really knows everybody’s tendencies, but I think it’s about going down there and getting back into the winning mentality, getting the new guys with the group and letting them know what this club’s all about.”
Regardless of players coming in and out of preseason camp, Kitchen is optimistic about the upcoming campaign for a club coming off an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
“We have a lot of guys returning from last year,” Kitchen said. “If we can put in similar effort and get similar results as last year, I think we’ll be in good shape. But right now, we still have a lot of work to put into this. Other teams are working hard, just like we are, so it’s definitely not going to be easy.”