Late this morning, in sub-freezing temperatures, D.C. United convened for preseason training at Long Bridge Park in Arlington, Va., the first of three days of training in the area in between stints in Florida. The session began with sharpness drills before transitioning to a large-sided game of reverse keep-away (in which the defense has to prevent the targeted players from receiving the ball and completing a pass for the other side). The day ended with half-field 8v8 drills pitting offense against defense.
The biggest takeaway on the day was intensity. When a ball was in play during any drill, there was constant chatter of players calling for the ball or shifting other defenders around - Brandon McDonald was particularly vocal during the 8v8 final drill. Not surprisingly, the most intense man on the field was Ben Olsen, who called on his charges to play simple, short passes. When a series of short passes resulted in a shot from the center of the box hitting the crossbar, Olsen called out, "See what can happen from a bunch of 15-yard passes on the ground?" To a man, though, the players, weren't far behind Olsen on the intensity scale. Lewis Neal (LEWIS NEAL!) went to ground several times - and he won each such tackle that I saw. In talks with media after the session, Olsen and several players referenced the high energy in the camp - these guys aren't by any means content with their 2012 performance.
The second biggest takeaway is our second entry in the Perry Kitchen Badass Watch. At the start of preseason, we told you about his 101-pushup set. Today, we were treated to the Indianapolis native taking the (ex-Indianapolis Colts and future Hall of Fame center) Jeff Saturday approach and playing in short sleeves. In 31-degree weather. Okay, that's not a major takeaway, but it is the second time in as many training sessions that I've seen Kitchen and been left mouth agape.
For those of you worried about Daniel Woolard, the left back participated fully in all drills while wearing a Petr Cech-style (or Calen Carr-style, if you prefer) concussion helmet. Some positional notes from the 8v8 drill: Conor Shanosky and Lance Rozeboom paired in the defense's central midfield, while Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Saragosa were the attack's double pivot. Ethan White played right fullback, as he did in the most recent preseason game.
I'll leave you for now with the preseason schedule and a reminder that we are five days away from our first live video of some kind of match. I, for one, can't wait.
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