D.C. United Notes: Club set for Houston heat, off-field issues subside and more

UnitedDynamo (Getty Images)

By AVI CREDITOR 

The unusually hot D.C. summer has made for superb preparation conditions for D.C. United's second trip to Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium.

With temperatures regularly creeping into the triple digits in the nation's capital over the past number of weeks, D.C. is better equipped for the notorious Houston humidity that has lended the nickname of "The Oven" to the Dynamo's new park. 

"We're trying to get prepared for the weekend, and the sun really helps that," said former Dynamo and current D.C. winger Danny Cruz. "The hotter it is, the more used to it we'll be. Last time, the heat hit us a little quicker. It was cold here at that point. We're definitely ready for it." 

Houston won that May 12 meeting 1-0 on a 67th-minute blast by Brad Davis at a time when fatigue began to settle in for the visitors. D.C. players and coaches alluded to that in postgame comments, and they're not the only ones to fall victim to the playing conditions. Visiting teams are 0-4-3 in Houston this season.

"I know I was hurting," D.C. right back Robbie Russell said. "The weather here in D.C. has been a little unusual to say the least, but it's been good in terms of getting us prepared for that kind of humidity and that kind of heat. It's an important game for us."

D.C. leads Houston by eight points in the Eastern Conference standings but has never won in Houston since the Dynamo franchise relocated from San Jose, going 0-6-1 in league games there since 2006. After a couple of weeks off, training in ideal conditions for this specific match and with having a later start time for Sunday's game (8 p.m. local time), perhaps this weekend is when that streak comes to an end.

"We're on an even playing field as far as going there if it is a hot day. (Last game) it did catch us. From the outside looking in, it looked like we just wilted," D.C. coach Ben Olsen said. "We realize we haven't won there, and we're looking to get that off our back. Sometimes when you have a big challenge like that it really galvanizes the group."

Here are more notes from D.C.:

OFF-FIELD ISSUES SUBSIDE

With Branko Boskovic's contract situation taken care of and new ownership partners Erick Thohir and Jason Levien being introduced this week, D.C.'s focus can shift solely to on-field matters, with the major off-field issues no longer lingering.

"It's time to kind of push," Cruz said. "We're obviously all happy to have Branko here. He's a big piece of things. With ownership, it's pretty special. It's behind us, and we're all pushing toward the playoffs hopefully."

The on-going stadium search will continue to go on in the background, with Thohir and Levien integrating themselves into the discussions. With the added personnel and financial clout behind the club's effort, the aura of optimism is not lost on Olsen, whose D.C. United days date back to 1998.

"This is my club," Olsen said. "Anytime we, as a club, get to move forward in any way I'm front-and-center cheering. This club has meant a lot to me and did me good for a long time, so I'm pumped about the whole situation." 

DERO HEADS TO THE ESPYS

Dwayne De Rosario was away from the team for a couple of days, attending the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles as one of the nominees for MLS Player of the Year. The reigning league MVP lost out to David Beckham (San Jose's Chris Wondolowski and Houston's Davis were the other nominees) in the fan-voted category but was still part of the festivities.

For Beckham, it marks the second time winning the award. He did so in 2008 as well. De Rosario was aiming to end the Los Angeles Galaxy's streak of winning the award in every year since its inception in 2006. Landon Donovan won it in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The trip won't cost De Rosario any gametime with the club, as he is expected to return to D.C. Thursday night ahead of the team's trip to Houston, according to a team spokesman.

OLSEN'S ALL-STAR DECISIONS LOOM

Olsen has All-Star Game matters to tend to as coach of the MLS side that will play Chelsea at PPL Park on July 25. His gameday roster is due in the coming days, but he has his priorities set on guiding D.C. into Houston slotted ahead of selecting his All-Star team.

"It hasn't been too consuming (of a process)," Olsen said. "I'm trying to put everything I have into Houston this weekend. There'll probably be a couple voicemails (telling me) to hurry me up. I keep trying to slip my name in there."

Olsen's gameday roster and commissioner Don Garber's two selections will be announced Sunday at halftime of the nationally televised match between the New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders (4 p.m., ESPN), prior to when D.C. takes to the field against the Dynamo.

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24 Responses to D.C. United Notes: Club set for Houston heat, off-field issues subside and more

  1. FCD96 says:

    Dynamo’s new park can’t be called “The Oven” because that was Pizza Hut Park’s nickname.

  2. Gnarls says:

    Unrelated, but I just saw this Michael Ballack face math meme and wanted to share with SBI readers.

    It’s funny because it’s true.
    link to 24.media.tumblr.com

  3. elgringorico says:

    Heat equality aside, I expect a much better showing than last time from DC. They are hitting their stride. I think Benny played his ideal, perfect lineup a couple weeks ago against Montreal, and the team is jazzed from the new ownership situation. vamos.

  4. Eric says:

    Awesome. Love that guy from the Drew Carey, Napoleon Dynamite etc..

  5. Will says:

    Try wearing all white instead of all black…

  6. YourMom says:

    How about houston takes the oven and you guys take the P’zone. Who gives a &*(%

  7. REX says:

    It’s not the over, its La Sauna Naranja.

  8. Kishan Jeter says:

    I love how all the ex-Dynamo players are major focal points for their respective clubs. DeRo, Wondolowski, Oduro, Cruz, Ianni, Mullan, and even Holden, Clark, and Spencer with his recent firing from the Timbers. And I’m sure Cameron will Champion his new team with Stoke City. Even the great Pat Onstad who coaches the goalies for DC United deserves some credit. Dominic Kinnear’s teams have always been a team in transition, always changing, developing, and always in the midst of the playoffs with a decent shot at winning another MLS championship. Go Dynamo!

  9. ThaDeuce says:

    nice

  10. bryan says:

    this heat blows. i’m sick of it. but this is a silver lining for sure. i have to honest, i did not know DC has never won in Houston. perfect time to do it!

    “I keep trying to slip my name in there.” – hahaha

  11. The Imperative Voice says:

    Nice spin for “headstrong coach trades away productive players, non-Cup-winning team left in their wake.” I’d feel more comfortable with this Dynamo Diaspora malarkey if we were higher up the table. Cause from where I am sitting we’re mid-table and providing everyone else their leading scorers or MVPs, while our Cup winning years slowly push off into the sunset.

    Houston needs to be a Destination not a Departure Lounge. I pay to see who’s here not intangible tradition taking the field.

  12. The Imperative Voice says:

    The heat is a pre-packaged discussion point because this week has been rainy and cool in Houston. The high today was 81F because of the rain, and the predicted game time temperature Sunday — for a night game, not a day fixture — is 85F.

    I’m not denying it was hotter than hell and sunny for the opener, and it should be humid, but this game will be played in the shade/ night in the evening, after a week of cooling rain, and the more likely concern is how well the grass held up to torrential rains (10 inches), did it drain, etc. I’d also be interested what Houston’s practices were like with all the downpours.

  13. The Imperative Voice says:

    I’ll be interested to what extent the Dynamo make the all star team with Olsen having to announce them pre-game. Sounds like ready made motivational material because players like Bruin, Davis, and Taylor will likely consider themselves entitled, and I doubt more than one will get picked.

  14. NaranjaFanatic says:

    Well, Davis is a given so you are saying Bruin and Taylor don’t make it. That wouldn’t surprise me and to be honest, I would prefer it. Give the guys a little rest instead of playing in some nonsense song and dance match. I could see Bruin being overlooked just because name goes farther than production in these things. And, I just don’t think a lot of people realize what Taylor has done this year.

  15. The Imperative Voice says:

    I’m saying that Olsen has to announce an outcome, maybe that one, then go and play us that night. Whomever gets left off might be grumpy and motivated.

    I’d actually argue Bruin’s having the more spectacular year, Davis has disappeared for stretches and is not as amazing as last year. But you may be right and I just can’t believe that in a 19 team league with 11 players already picked and no Dynamo in the first XI, that it’ll be more than 1 picked.

    Far as whether it’s a “rest,” there is no MLB-style break, the Dynamo play one weekend and then the next, the all stars play mid-week. If you’re not in Philly you’re getting ready for Toronto. There might be some difference in jet wear and tear but I doubt they start our contribution anyway.

    In terms of the esteem for Mr. Taylor, color me amused that he has had to sing for his Dynamo supper this much, while Calen Carr, he of zip productivity, is lauded like the prodigal son on return from injury. You seriously wonder whether the people handling our PR are delusional. I’d be broadcasting the Taylor and Creavalle smash show that shut down KC, not indulging myths about what Carr will bring to us on return…..

  16. NaranjaFanatic says:

    I missed your point. My bad. That could be interesting.

    As for Carr, I don’t understand the big pronouncement that we are “back to full strength” when its hard to see where on earth Carr even fits in other than a late sub (Ownby’s minutes I suppose). However, I will be interested to see if it is Watson or Camargo in the starting 11 given how well Watson did just before his injury.

    Totally unrelated, I think Methodist Hospital ought to sponsor a pregame giveaway and give the first 5,000 fans a free Calen Carr style helmet.

  17. Coop says:

    You’re argument might hold more weight if we weren’t in the finals last year while those other players were not…

  18. D says:

    At a boy JuvieChelsey: Don’t let any positive view about the Dynamo go by without a response. I hope the Dynamo get on a winning streak just so you have to crawl back beneath a rock and sulk like you did last fall.

  19. ed says:

    dont forget kamara and Moreno

  20. The Imperative Voice says:

    Hold more weight? What part of “non-Cup-winning team left in their wake” is even debatable? It’s strictly factual. Or have I missed some anonymous secret contribution to the trophy case since 2007?

    This is the whole problem is that the team used to stockpile talent and win titles, and it now stockpiles mostly hustle and is content with making runs in the playoffs. Those same teams then cannot maintain their momentum year 2 because they are greater than the sum of their limited parts. If you don’t see the difference between cups and non-cups, then you must be drinking the kool-aid.

    I don’t think the team is going to win until the talent level rises at the expense of sheer hustling defensive effort. The title winning teams here and in SJ had players like Donovan and DeRo and Holden and so on, and they won the silverware. Since then DK has descended into defensive caricature and the trophies have stopped. The concept is flawed and the cupboard is not being filled.

    So you can cheerlead our pursuit of 2nd because I’ll be leading the march on 1st. I’ll promote the real talent like Taylor and you can promote Carr and whatnot, see where that gets you. Does he have more than like 1 goal and 1 assist in his whole time in town? It’s laughable that people want to defend this mediocre of a team. I want the winners back.

  21. The Imperative Voice says:

    I rely on something more than hope, I recognize that if we don’t get the talent hope won’t win titles. LAG get the offensive stars and look who beats us every year? Not going to change that by covering ears eyes and pretending.

  22. MiamiAl says:

    Olsen should put All DC United in for his choices for the All Star game…I definitely think Pontius, Kichen, and Woolard should be there…

  23. JP says:

    Too bad the high in Houston is only supposed to be 85 on Sunday.

  24. Tufa says:

    Kicking an old man when he is down….Classy, DC