After joining D.C. United last July, Conor Doyle has seen two completely different teams in Black-and-Red. Helping spark last year’s “youth movement” and United’s run to Open Cup glory during a tough season, Doyle scored two goals and registered one assist in 2013.
This year’s squad, though, is comprised of MLS veterans, giving young impact players from last year leaders to learn from. In training and on the sidelines, Doyle learns from a U.S. National Team forward in Eddie Johnson and while on the pitch, he gets to work off of Fabián Espíndola, a proven goal scorer.
“[Espíndola’s] a great player, obviously,” Doyle said. “It wasn’t the first time we played together in Portland; we played together a few times in preseason, so I kind of know how he plays. I was watching at the start of the season, and I’ve been observing and seeing what is going on. I am excited at the possibility to play with him more.”
With Johnson a World Cup hopeful, more playing time for Doyle might be on the horizon, and he’s already proven he is up for the task. Subbing on for an injured Johnson against FC Dallas on April 26, the Texas native’s work rate and energy were a game changer for Assistant Coach Chad Ashton.
“He brought great energy to the game,” Ashton said after the 4-1 win. “He helped with our possession. He helped get their backs off the ball. He works super hard. It helped us start our attacks higher because of his defensive relentlessness.”
That ‘relentlessness’ is something this team has in droves. It’s part of the difference in mentality from last season to this season.
“It’s a winning mentality,” Doyle said of this year’s group. “We expect to win. We don’t expect to lose games. Last year, it became a cancer within the team, that losing was acceptable. This year after the first two games, people were still saying, ‘We have a good group. We’re going to win games, don’t worry about it.’ I think that is the big difference; we expect to win. We don’t think we should lose any games, and I like that.”