D.C. United’s 2014 squad is a Motley Crew, a collection of youngsters, MLS veterans and “tweeners."
Every group has something to prove, perhaps none more than the handful of United players who were acquired after being let got by their previous club, picked up in the re-entry draft or via trade.
"I think some of these guys like Davy [Arnaud], Fabian [Espindola] and [Chris Rolfe] - I think they got a chip on their should a little bit,” United head coach Ben Olsen told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week. "Teams let them go. They decided somewhere that they didn’t need them anymore.”
Two key pieces in United’s back line - right back Sean Franklin and center back Bobby Boswell - were acquired via the league’s re-entry draft. The draft allows clubs the means to expose players who they might perceive as expendable to selection by another team; it also allows other teams to take a chance on that player, often for the same or even slightly more money.
Though Boswell has many fond memories of his time in Houston, he also uses the fact that the Dynamo saw it fit to offload him as a bit of motivation.
“We were pretty upset that someone let us go,” Boswell told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week. "The re-entry draft, for example, Sean [Franklin] and I came in that way, Davy [Arnaud] kind of came right before that, you know, these are guys that feel like someone took a chance on us, [United head coach Ben Olsen] took a chance on us by bringing us in and giving us money, saying ‘hey, I think you guys can contribute on a high level.'"
"We want to reward not only those people but want to show that that decision from the other club wasn’t the smartest decision.”
Franklin came to D.C. after hoisting a pair of MLS Cup titles with the Los Angeles Galaxy during a six-year span that saw him become one of the league’s most dependable right backs. Cast off after the club’s 2013 title run, the defender has focused in on bringing a bit of that success to United’s locker room.
“It’s all business and when it comes down to it, it’s a decision that was made - at the end of the day I’d been with LA for six years - sometimes things don’t work. I’m here in DC now, hopefully to bring a championship back here. I came from a team where I was lucky enough to win 2 - there are a lot of guys here now who’ve been in big games and know what it takes to win a title.”
“Between guys like Sean and I,” Boswell concluded, "and the other guys that were here last year for what was a 3-win season, there are some pretty pissed off players here. This was the first team I’ve ever been on where every single player showed up and passed their pre-season fitness testing. I’ve never in my whole life seen that."
“Everybody here is anxious to win. If we keep working the way we’ve been working during the week, we’ll keep getting rewarded on the weekend."