United riding high after win

Midfielder Danny Cruz may return for March 10 opener

Some notes following D.C. United's second consecutive preseason win, a 3-1 victory over the host Charleston Battery at the 2012 Carolina Challenge Cup.


On the wrong end of a red-card challenge, there were serious concerns about the status of D.C. midfielder Danny Cruz as United departed Blackbaud Stadium on Wednesday. Fortunately, further testing late last night revealed only bone bruises and no fractures in either of the young midfielder's ankles.

In fact, Cruz was walking without crutches Thursday morning and attended - though did not participate - in team's morning practice. According to United's training staff, Cruz will be evaluated on a daily basis with hopes that he will be available for selection for the March 10 season opener.


In just his second year in charge of United, Ben Olsen has picked up on one of the trademarks of the coaching profession - you can't let your emotions get too high ... especially in preseason. Following the Black-and-Red's impressive 3-1 victory, Olsen was quick to point out some of the deficiencies in Wednesday night's performance.

"I think it was still one half that wasn't so great and one that was a little better," Olsen said after the Black-and-Red had claimed its second victory of the Carolina Challenge Cup. "When we play the game simply and move the ball with one and two touches and don't complicate everything, we are a pretty good team and we'll be successful. But if we complicate things and take three touches instead of two we are going to struggle."


The top highlight from Wednesday night - and maybe all of United's preseason - came in the 88th minute. Andy Najar went on a run that displayed every promising characteristic in the 18-year-old's blossoming repertoire. A brilliant first touch under pressure set up a forty yard dash, where the Honduran showed strength, balance and the ability to change speeds all while keeping the ball glued to his foot.

Perhaps the most exciting element of Najar's magical run is what the ambitious teenager did once he finally ran out of Battery defenders to beat. A give-and-go with Josh Wolff unlocked the play and allowed Najar to get behind Charleston's back four. With the hard work - and half of Charleston's defense chasing him - the midfielder finished the sequence with a precise pass to Hamdi Salihi.

All told, Najar took ten consecutive touches and beat five Charleston defenders before pairing with Wolff and picking up his first assist of the Carolina Challenge Cup.


D.C. United has parted ways with trialist Guilherme. On trial from Brazilian club Botafogo, the 20-year-old left back had been training with the Black-and-Red since last Monday.

He played the final 30 minutes in D.C.'s 1-0 win over Chicago on Saturday, but did not enter Wednesday night's match against Charleston.

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