MLS Training Camp Preview: D.C. United

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By AVI CREDITOR

After putting last season's historically bad campaign in the rear-view mirror, D.C. United is aiming for a fresh start with Ben Olsen at the helm of a team on a mission.

With a bevy of new faces in camp and a fresh attitude to boot, expectations of a vast improvement are abound in the nation's capital. Prior to the 2011 season's first kick against the Columbus Crew on March 19, though, United will look to repeat one thing from last year: success at the Carolina Challenge Cup.

The defending champions of the tournament, United will take part in the four-team exhibition hosted by the Charleston Battery for the sixth time. D.C. is scheduled to play the Chicago Fire, Toronto FC and the hosts the week of March 5-12. Between that tournament and trips to Florida and California, Olsen should be able to get a good feel for his roster and how to mold his starting XI.

Here's a closer look at D.C. United's preseason plans:

D.C. UNITED

Training schedule: Jan. 26-28 in D.C.; Jan. 31-Feb. 12 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Feb. 16-26 in Ventura, Calif.; March 1-2 in D.C.; March 3-13 in Charleston, S.C.; March 14-18 in D.C.

Tentative game schedule: Feb. 19 vs. Ventura County Fusion; March 5 vs. Charleston Battery; March 9 vs. Chicago Fire; March 12 vs. Toronto FC.

Key arrivals: Dax McCarty, Perry Kitchen, Ethan White, Josh Wolff, Joseph Ngwenya, Rodrigo Brasesco, Steve Cronin, Pat Onstad (goalkeeper coach).

Key departures: Jaime Moreno, Danny Allsopp, Pablo Hernandez, Adam Cristman, Rodney Wallace, Jordan Graye, Troy Perkins.

What to watch for: How all the new faces come together and positions get defined. Between adding McCarty through trade, Wolff and Ngwenya through the Re-Entry Draft process and Kitchen through the SuperDraft, D.C. has plenty of newcomers who are expected to play key roles in 2011. How each of them show in the preseason could determine position placement for players like Chris Pontius and Santino Quaranta, who were shifted back and forth from the top of the formation to the midfield during a chaotic 2010.

Of note: D.C. will have four homegrown players vying for first-team time this season. Last year's Rookie of the Year, Andy Najar, headlines the class, which also includes goalkeeper Bill Hamid, centerback/defensive midfielder Conor Shanosky and defender Ethan White. Hamid is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery but is expected to take the reins in net when healthy. Shanosky and White have uphill battles to fight, but impressive showings in training and in exhibitions could give Olsen some tough decisions to make.

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What are you hoping to see in D.C. United's preseason? Who do you think should start for the team? Who do think should be the team's captain? Do you see Shanosky and/or White cracking the first team this season? Do you think D.C. can rebound from 2010 and make a run for the playoffs in 2011?

Share your thoughts below.

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24 Responses to MLS Training Camp Preview: D.C. United

  1. IG says:

    Hoping to see some scoring that carries over into the regular season and Najar picking up where he let off.

  2. Jason says:

    DC United is like Sarah Palin, both can’t finish anything.

  3. cj says:

    As much as I hate to say it, I feel like DC will have a NYRB like rebound season.

  4. froboy says:

    except for all those titles we have

  5. froboy says:

    Dallas and Portland were both dumb to give up Dax for so little, the DC Academy is starting to give an advantage to the team, i have hope we can be a decent team this year

  6. scott says:

    can’t wait to see how hamid does this year. i think he will be a force in goal. with najar and mccarty in the mid, that should be interesting as well. i wonder if there is a stat for goals scored/assists per height because those guys are pretty small.

  7. jcl says:

    can’t wait to shoot some pink cows from our plane

  8. KEEP says:

    They will be fun to watch for sure…very quick, technical squad. Big Bill will have a breakout year, Najar will do his thing and Dax should provide a key role we have missed for a while. That being said, defensively we still need help. I would like to see a decent CB and striker brought in if the $’s right. With the CAPS not doing well…this town needs a pickmeup.

  9. Will says:

    We should sign Camoranesi. He’s free and would bring some experience to the MF

  10. Thorpinski says:

    Hamid and Najar are 2 stars in the making. Add the addition of Dax and a healthy return of Chris Pontius and they could be interesting.. I believe Ethan White will be a factor before it’s all over.

  11. bryan says:

    i’m really hoping some of these additions work out for us. hopefully hamid will be good to go and hopefully najar will have another great year. after seeing dax against chile, im looking forward (not that i wasnt before) to seeing him in a DCU jersey. i’m really hoping pontius and quaranta have better years, ive always liked both players. pumped for the season though!

  12. sam says:

    hopefully we can get an international striker to put goals in the net and some cover in the back would help

  13. Lawrence says:

    Hopefully all our USA boys rub off on Najar (except for their first touch)

  14. Lawrence says:

    Any word on Korb, the defender from Akron?

  15. Smith says:

    Looking forward to your last year in DC.

  16. EAscott says:

    McCarty’s a good signing, but I’m not sure DC has added enough this year. I still don’t see a real goal scorer. Unless Pontius and Quaranta can return to their earlier form, I don’t see DC going too far this year.

  17. adam says:

    LOL. The Caps that are on pace for 103 points? Yeah, them. Struggling.

  18. GY says:

    I know it isn’t official or on the site, but DC does have another game against UCSB while out in CA. Believe the game is scheduled for Feb 22nd.

  19. gerald says:

    I also think DC will bounce back this year they just won’t bounce to 1st place. I think New york is still deeper at the moment

  20. DC Josh says:

    Just what we need, another midfielder.

  21. DC Josh says:

    Without a goal scorer, like *AHEM*, Van Nistelrooy, we are in for a long season. Our goals will have to come from Quaranta, Najar, Wolff, and Pontius. McCarty will probably lineup in a defensive midfield role. Like others have said, Hamid is in for a huge year. I think he will light the league on fire and be an all star. Guessing at a lineup:

    Hamid
    Brasesco Kitchen Jakovic Burch
    Najar Boskovic McCarty Quaranta
    Pontius Wolff

  22. MiamiAl says:

    DC needs a good solid consistent striker. They might have to pony up some cash to get one…Hamid will have a big year. He is the future USMNT goalkeeper! Mark it!

  23. nick says:

    @dcjosh,

    I agree. While United has improved, we have gone from absolutely terrible to mediocre with few goals up front.

    We need a serious upgrade up top to have any real impact this year. Otherwise, United will again be out of the playoff but not at the bottom of the table.

  24. JoeW says:

    Too early to predict that. At this point of the year, every team has visions of MLS Cup.

    In DCU’s case, the team needs a finisher. There isn’t enough goal-scoring talent to score by committee. Guys like Pontius, Quaranta, Wolff, Ngwenya, and Najar are all talented and can all add goals but to expect any of them to give the team 10-12 goals is unrealistic. Realistically, one of those guys will probably be a bust (probably b/c of injuries), one will have a really good year (maybe 7-8 goals) and the others will all chip in with 2-5 goals a piece. That’s not enough. And Olsen more or less said the same during the offseason, saying that the team needed a proven finisher. That’s still true. Kasper, etc. are looking. We’ll see what they find.