D.C. United met for the first time in 2013 this morning at George Mason's indoor track facility to set their baseline fitness tests. This weekend, they'll be off to Bradenton, Fla. for the first real leg of their preseason. The biggest news on the day was who was there and who wasn't. We'll get to all that in a minute.
First things first. Nick DeLeon's bleached white hair and massive beard is an awesome look. I won't call it good - beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that. But I will say it is awesome.
Second things, well, second: Perry Kitchen is a beast. I don't think anybody was calling him soft last year, but the Akron product has definitely been hitting the weight room. In the pushup test, Kitchen banged out enough that a small crowd of trainers and other players gathered around him by the time he was done - 101 pushups later.
As to who was in attendance, it was all returning players. New young designated player Rafael (Gladiador if you're nasty) is still awaiting his visa to come to the U.S., and Taylor Kemp isn't yet with the team. What was encouraging was seeing guys like Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario, Daniel Woolard and Lance Rozeboom fully participate in warmups and testing.
Absences were also noted. Hamdi Salihi was not present, his days with the team apparently numbered. Bill Hamid is off with the U.S. National Team's January camp, and third-string 'keeper Andrew Dykstra is training with a team in England. Andy Najar is on loan to Anderlecht through the end of the month.
Players will be coming and going throughout the preseason. Hamid will be with the USMNT through their friendly with Canada on Jan. 29. Speaking of the Great White North, De Rosario and Dejan Jakovic have both been called into the Canadian National Team's camp to prepare for that game against the U.S. and another friendly against Denmark three days earlier. Both players will leave United's camp on Sunday and, along with Hamid, return to United's training at the end of the month.