Offseason Q&A with Russell Canouse

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You’ve been with D.C. United since 2017. How has the team changed from your first season to now?

“Yeah, there have been a lot of changes since 2017, and I'm thankful and lucky to have been at the club since then. I’ve seen a lot of different faces come through and have had a lot of great teammates and staff. I think there have been three different times where we've had a certain group of players together. This seems like the third time, but it's been good. I've enjoyed my four-and-a-half years with the club through the ups and downs. Not making the playoffs the last two seasons has been very frustrating, but I look at last year in particular and see a lot of positives about the way we played and our performances on the field. Lots of positives since coming to the club in 2017, from where we were at RFK, to where we are now with the training center and Audi Field. It's been great to see the development of everything.”

What is one of the fondest memories you have with D.C. United?

“One of the coolest experiences was that last game at RFK. That was a pretty special moment for me because of being at that iconic stadium. When I was younger, my dad would take me down to games at RFK as a kid to watch D.C. United, and I watched the last All-Star Game there when I was younger. So being a part of that experience and the club I grew up watching. I didn’t spend 100% of my time watching D.C. United, but I definitely have that as a childhood memory. It was a cool memory, being in that last game before we transitioned into the new stadium.”

What makes DC home? Do you and your wife have a favorite spot to go to?

“I'll say what makes it home is the fact that I can actually go home back to Central Pennsylvania in a reasonable amount of time. In terms of what makes it home locally within the DMV area is that I’ve spent a lot of time in Alexandria. That was my first apartment, and then I moved with my wife to Old Town. That area makes me feel very at home, and it's a special place where I kind of grew up. I never lived in DC and was always commuting from Northern Virginia into the city. But that area, in particular, is my favorite, and a place I'll always view as a home away from home.

How did you take advantage of your time off during the offseason?

“I think every offseason I try to look at where my weaknesses are or certain aspects I need to improve to hit the ground running in the new year. I was able to use this offseason to get a good grasp on my fitness and have a solid foundation coming into preseason. From an injury prevention side, focusing on certain areas and then maintaining it and being smart. I feel like I'm in a good spot right now. We're almost two weeks in, and I'm starting to feel better at this point.”

Having dealt with injury in the past, what have you found to be the best way to get back into playing?

“It's always tough. I've always been a guy who's pretty fit. So coming off an injury, I usually can come back faster just because of my fitness. But, I think it's important from the mental side when you're going through injuries, so you don't get discouraged. You use the time away from the field to work on other areas that you're not usually working on when you're training every day because you have to prepare for a game. But you can only do that if you have the mental strength to be able to dive into it and not feel sorry for being injured because you can always get to that negative mindset of, ‘Oh, I'm injured again.’ It's part of the game. You do your best to try to stay healthy. I try to do as much recovery as I can, take care of my body, eat well, all these things. And sometimes it just happens if you get stuck into a tackle.”

What’s something you’ve implemented into your training to stay at the top of your game all these years?

“I think I've finally gotten to a point where I feel good about my health with dieting, my weight, what I'm putting into my body, and focusing on recovery daily—building those little habits that can hopefully set me up for success during the season. For some of those, it takes a couple of years and time to figure out. I've always been willing to give myself time to figure it out and be interested in doing it.” 

“Over the last year, Hernán coming in has also positively impacted me from having that self-awareness to have a good foundation and building on it. I think the self-awareness piece is huge. And surrounding yourself with people in your life, obviously, you have coaches for a reason. You have coaches in every aspect of your life. The top business guys have business coaches because it’s people that can always keep them accountable and create that self-awareness. It's been a good change. I've found myself over the last year-and-a-half being more aware, and it's helped me.”

How has it been to get back training with the team?

“It's been good. We've had a lot of turnovers, which it's tough to deal with as a player because you see a lot of your teammates and good friends leaving. But getting back into preseason after the offseason, is always relieving just because you get, at least I always get, the itch to come back towards the end of the offseason. I'm like, all right, when can we start already? So it's been good to be able to reconnect with the guys. We're only a week-and-a-half in, but you can see the relationship starting to come back on the field. Our timing with and without the ball, communication, all those things that go into a game setting, we're slowly getting back into it, which is good.”

With the season around the corner, what do you think 2022 has in store for you and the team?

“We all realized that we weren't happy with how last year ended. We deserved more and could have gotten a lot more out of last year. So we know we have to take it up a notch and learn from some of the things we didn't do well last year, like giving up games when we have the points available to take and just being smarter in certain situations. I think we played a lot of good soccer last year, but hopefully, we can pick up the things we didn't do well and then obviously move into 2022 with the playoffs in mind. We can all have that goal together. Obviously, we didn't achieve it last year, so that's something that we can be unified in this year.”

What are you most looking forward to in your sixth season with the team?

“I think it's just from the team side, getting back into the playoffs. Really being competitive—which we were last year—but being a team that is hard to play against and being able to get results. From a personal side, for us to be able to do that requires me to continue to be a leader, step up even more into a leadership role with the club and put performances out there that can make the fans happy. I think there are many things that happened this offseason with players leaving and players being sold. So we're excited to be able to get back out there and show the fans that we've been working hard, and the guys who are here right now are ready to play and fight for the club."