On a chillier-than-expected April morning, D.C. United hit the training field after a day off. Now a day removed from the 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Union, the Black-and-Red warmed-up as a team with a passing drill—focusing on speed of play, constantly changing the pattern and touch restrictions. Then, those players who logged big minutes in Sunday’s game focused on regen, while those remaining played a high intensity small sided scrimmage and ended with a finishing drill. The goalkeepers trained hard simultaneously, working on their reaction times with limited visibility. While the team and coaching staff work to find what is troubling the team thus far, it is important for United to focus on the positives.
Coming Back From Injuries
Approximately six weeks after midfielder John Thorrington strained his MCL, he is continually progressing. Originally diagnosed as an 8-12 week injury, Thorrington has been biking to practice and working with the Black-and-Red athletic training staff to further his rehabilitation.
Marcos Sanchez, who missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, is day-to-day, but Head Coach Ben Olsen is hopeful.
“Marcos has been progressing,” said Ben Olsen. “They gave me hope that he will be okay for the weekend, but we still don’t know until he gets to fully train.”
Nick DeLeon, a key component to last season’s success story, is continuing to progress—now a month into a diagnosed six-week recovery period. DeLeon worked on his agility during today’s session under the watchful eye of a D.C. United athletic trainer.
“It was good to see Nick out there doing some exercises,” said Olsen. “He’s still a ways away, but it is good that he is on the field, at least doing some things with the ball.”
Raising the Standards
Until now, Head Coach Ben Olsen had been evaluating himself and the staff, asking what they can do to make this team better. Now, he is turning the focus to the players. He wants to challenge the team to step up and realize that the pressure is on to “right the ship,” as midfielder Chris Pontius put it.
“Now, I’m going to hold [the players] to very, very high standards,” said Olsen. “If it’s not working, we’ll make changes. But I believe in the group.”
“I look at myself after ever game,” responded Pontius when told that Olsen was turning his focus to the team. “I am my biggest critic... I know I haven't played up to my potential.”
Having only scored two goals in the six games prior to Sunday, the Black-and-Red doubled their total goals scored with a two-goal performance. On the bright side, last week’s focus throughout training had been on the offense—the offense delivered.
“I thought offensively, this was the best game that we’ve had in terms of creating chances,” explained Pontius. “We were able to put two away—I know I felt I should have had one. There were a couple of other chances that were good looks on goal.”
“We had more looks in that game than we did all year,” Olsen said. “So that was a step forward from the offensive side. We scored two goals.”