Photo by ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
WASHINGTON — Since signing with D.C. United as a homegrown player in August 2010, Conor Shanosky has quietly bided his time. While loan stints got him lower-level minutes with Harrisburg, Fort Lauderdale and Richmond, he kept on waiting for his MLS debut.
One year. Two years. Coming up on three.
“It’s very rough, actually, because win or lose you want to be out there with the guys, you want to battle with your teammates,” Shanosky said. “To see them going through everything, the emotions of winning and losing and fighting, and be not in 18, not on the bench, not able to help them — it’s something that to get out there for the first time, it means a lot to me.”
Shanosky made that long-awaited debut Sunday, starting and playing 64 minutes at centerback in a 2-0 loss at the Chicago Fire, 33 months after he signed with United.
“I was extremely happy that he got into a game,” coach Ben Olsen said. “It’s a dream come true for him to finally get a first-team game for the team that he loves and grew up watching, and I thought he did fine.”
While Shanosky, 21, is a natural defensive midfielder, the 6-foot-4 player was groomed at centerback during his loan stint earlier this season with the Richmond Kickers.
“I still see myself as a holding midfielder, but right now especially it’s been more centerback,” Shanosky said. “Personally, I’m enjoying it at the moment and want to build on that and stay at centerback. But obviously, I’ll play anywhere.”
Here are some more notes from United training at RFK Stadium on Tuesday:
NYASSI PREPARES TO FACE REVOLUTION
Recently signed winger Sainey Nyassi made his league debut for United on Sunday, coming off the bench to play 26 minutes on the right flank.
It was a welcome development for the speedy winger, who before being waived by the New England Revolution last month had logged just 11 MLS minutes since the end of 2011.
“I have a lot to offer,” said Nyassi, who hadn’t played a league match since July 18. “There are a lot of good players that I’m definitely trying to know them better and know what they want, and their style of play obviously I’m starting to learn. In this system, I know how they try to play.”
Added Olsen: “He’s explosive. He hasn’t gotten a lot of time, but you see some of his qualities going forward and putting guys on their heels. That’s a positive. I think he’s still a little rusty from not getting a lot of games, so that’s challenge.”
Nyassi won’t have to wait long to prove himself against his former club, as United (1-10-2) travel to face New England (5-4-4) on Saturday.
“It’s going to be emotional for me to go back there and play,” Nyassi said. “I’m going to go out there and show them that I’m still a good player that didn’t get a chance to play there. It’s going to be a battle between me and them.”
THORRINGTON MAKES RETURN
Midfielder John Thorrington made his return from a sprained knee ligament Sunday, playing 33 minutes as a substitute for his first minutes since March 9.
Perhaps the best part of his outing? The 33-year-old walked away from a few tough tackles unscathed.
“That’s what training is for, to help you adapt somewhat,” Thorrington said. “But it’s not quite the same as when you get out there in a game. I certainly took some shots, which is good. It’ll just get my knee back adapting to the stresses of the game.”
As Thorrington said, he was taught a lesson during his days in the Manchester United youth system that injuries offer an opportunity to “study the game,” noting that injury-plagued forward Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made an impact in limited minutes because he wasn’t one to passively watched from the sideline.
Now that he’s back, Thorrington offers much-needed help in central midfield for a United squad that has auditioned a slew of players this year next to stalwart Perry Kitchen.
“He gives us a rhythm,” Olsen said. “He’s a guy that gets it. When he comes in the game, the way we play can be altered in a positive way. So we’re looking forward to getting him back in the mix.”
DE ROSARIO DEALING WITH SORE SHOULDER
After pleading for an opportunity to start alongside fellow veteran Carlos Ruiz, United captain Dwayne De Rosario got his wish Sunday. But the duo logged just 57 minutes together before De Rosario was removed in favor of Thorrington.
As Olsen explained, the move “was both tactical and he also has a shoulder right now he’s dealing with.”
Although De Rosario has played just 82 minutes combined in United’s past two league matches, the 35-year-old went the full 120 minutes in a U.S. Open Cup triumph at third-tier Richmond last week.
POSSESSION STRONG BUT FINISHING LACKING
With 62.9 of the possession Sunday, United dominated the run of play against Chicago. But the Fire still managed to outshoot the visitors 14-8, and United didn’t put a single shot on target.
“I saw a lot of good possession,” Olsen said. “But again, the offensive part just isn’t good enough. We’re not getting enough looks, and the looks we are getting, they’re not on target. We’re not making the goalkeeper work.”
Defender Dejan Jakovic (groin) jogged and did ball work on the side. Olsen expects him back in full training this week. … Forward Lionard Pajoy, who missed Sunday’s loss with a hip flexor strain, is day to day. … Goalkeeper Bill Hamid took the day off to rest a sore shoulder. … Defender Habib Bellaid and forward Mamadou Diallo from CS Sedan Ardennes, a French club relegated to the third tier for next season, are on trial.
How do you think Shanosky did in his MLS debut? Will Nyassi make his former club pay Saturday? How much does Thorrington add to United’s lineup?
Share your thoughts below.