Ahead of Wednesday's US Open Cup game against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, D.C. United took to the training field on Monday morning, looking to shake the cobwebs of the loss to the Seattle Sounders two weeks ago. With a trip to Houston coming up quickly after the game against the Strikers, manager Ben Olsen spoke to reporters after practice about the hopes that the team can improve in the second half of the season.
"We're sitting in an okay spot, a playoff spot right now, which is always our goal. But we feel like we left a lot of points on the table, and we feel like we need to improve. But we feel like we can improve."
Olsen quickly segued into revealing that United had some plans on adding players to the team's current roster. That might require some roster gymnastics from United, but Olsen also referenced additions to the team in terms of several players returning to the set up after long layoffs.
"With some additions, hopefully we get some guys back from injury, and we're going to have a couple of signings here when everything opens up," Olsen said.
While Olsen didn't expand on more information than that, he did answer a question about Chris Durkin, who was taking part in United's practice on Monday. Durkin, who is part of United's academy, spent time with the Black-and-Red in the preseason, appearing in friendly games as an unidentified player.
But with rumors swirling about Durkin potentially signing with the club, Olsen admitted that it's a possibility that United sign Durkin to a homegrown player deal this year. Signing Durkin wouldn't be subject to the secondary transfer window as other potential signings would be, which runs from July 4th to August 3rd.
"We'll see. It's no secret we like the kid," Olsen said when B&RU asked specifically about Durkin. "We think he belongs here, and we think we have a good plan for his development. We'll see if that plays out. Right now, it's between his representation and Dave [Kasper]."
United hopes to use Wednesday's Open Cup game to help get their season back on track. A break from each other, which stated immediately after the loss to Seattle, gave players and coaches alike a chance to get away from each other with the hopes of everyone coming back refreshed. But after the break, United is eager to get back to the grind, looking to improve on a 2016 season that saw the Black-and-Red stumble out of the gate.
"It was a nice break. Everyone got away from the game enough, players got away from me enough," said Olsen. "Now it's back to business, and we're looking forward to the rest of the season. It starts with an Open Cup game that we're excited about."
In injury news relevant to the game against the Strikers and the subsequent trip to Texas to face the Houston Dynamo, Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko were absent from practice, as they continue to try to recover from concussions. Marcelo Sarvas didn't participate in practice, working on the side, but Olsen said that he didn't foresee a long term absence for Sarvas, who is dealing with a toe injury.
But Alvaro Saborio was also absent from practice, having just returned from to the team after Costa Rica's Copa America involvement ended on Saturday. Saborio missed the final group stage game against Colombia with what Olsen said was a calf injury. The extent of the injury isn't known yet, with the team still looking to assess the extent of the Saborio's injury.
On the flip side, Olsen did say that Alhaji Kamara, the Sierra Leonean forward signed in May, is now in contention to start for United. After having a long layoff after UEFA doctors ruled him ineligible to play in Europe with a heart condition, Kamara has worked himself back into shape, putting himself in a position to potentially start on Wednesday against the Strikers.
"We had a closed door scrimmage game, and [Kamara] played some significant minutes," Olsen said. "We think he's ready to start playing. He's pushing his minutes and he's ready to go if he's called."