After the loss to Real Salt Lake, John Dyson had a chance to talk with John Wilson, Clyde Simms and Brandon Prideaux to discuss their preseason preparations and their goals for the season.
How is your preseason going to this point?
“It’s going pretty well. Today we had a hiccup with the loss to Salt Lake. We’re getting fit. And we’re getting to know each other better, with the new guys. So, it’s going good.”
What are the differences between you coming in mid-season last year and coming in at the start of this season?
“I think the differences are knowing the team, knowing the guys, knowing the system and style we play. Also, knowing what the guys’ strengths are. One difference is that now that I know the guys, and they know me, I can be a bit more vocal. Last year I was feeling my way out. The biggest difference is that I’m much more comfortable. I’m in DC and more settled in now.”
The coaches said that the loss in the playoffs largely came from mental fatigue due to the long season. With knowledge behind you, how are you preparing yourself mentally this season to ensure that does not happen again?
“I know you probably hear this all the time, but every game you’ve got to come out to play. They also say in every sport that the playoffs are a different season. It doesn’t matter how you get to the playoffs, you can be last or first, but we’ve got to realize that everything we did before that playoff is out the window. Now it’s about the present.”
“I think we just came out a little flat in that game. But, you learn and hope that it doesn’t happen again.”
You said that there was a hiccup in today’s game. What was that hiccup? Was it simple fatigue from the preseason workouts?
“That was part of it. That’s also part of the mental side of it – you’ve got to find a way. We didn’t do that today. It is better that it happened today and not later. We’ll see them again, and this gives us something to look forward to. They’re a little bit better team than they were last year, and they’ve been in training for a little while. I think there were some tired legs, but we’ve still got to find a way to at least find a way to grind those games out and get a result. We’ll learn from that.”
Has Coach Nowak given you any definition on your play for this season? Will it be as a left back or left wing?
“No, so far it’s just been in the back. I’m in the back and trying to get forward when I can. That’s been about it. I think defensively, and that’s the first thing, the most important. For the most part it’s been like last year. I haven’t been in the midfield too much, but a lot times I end up switching with Josh Gros in a game if I make a run up. He’s just letting me go out there and play.”
You were part of a defense that had the best goals-against-average in team history. How do you improve on that this year?
“As a unit? I think as a unit you’ve just got to go out and defend as a unit. The forwards, back to the midfielders, back to the defense everybody must have that mentality. That’s going to help us reach the same goal as last year. They always say, ‘If they don’t score, then they can’t win’. As a defender, I’m always very happy my forwards are making it predictable by marking hard on their defenders. Then it helps us get tight on their forwards. It also is a good opportunity to put pressure on them, getting chances for a turnover, I think that’s one of the things we do well.”
“When I first got here I was amazed how much when balls turned over, especially at RFK, we attacked like bandits. We play three in the back and guys are still going forward. A lot of that starts with the pressure, pressure at the top.”
What are your personal goals for the year?
“My personal goals for the year I would say are to be more consistent and more vocal in the back. More consistent day in and day out in training and out of the field.”
How is preseason going for you to this point?
“It’s tough. It’s been a tough little over a week now in Florida. In DC we were going once a day, which is a lot easier. It’s been tough.”
“I think the guys have been doing a pretty good job with it. We’ve had some injuries, but we’re staying healthy for the most part.”
Last year you came in and had sort of a dream season with the National Team call up, then being brought in by DC United. You could say that you were floating on a cloud for much of last year. How is it different now that you are a regular?
“It is definitely different. I know that last year I was more just happy just being here. This offseason I thought a lot about wanting to make the best career out of soccer that I can. I guess my thoughts going into training and games has been different already starting this year. I’m concentrating on things that I can do better. I go into training day in and day out trying to improve on things I need to.”
This team last year you were in the National Team camp and Brian Carroll was here. This year the roles are reversed. You are both fighting for a starting position, probably at the defensive/holding midfield position. How does that make you feel?
“I think it’s great. I’ve said it before that I’d rather be in this situation than being a regular starter that didn’t have anyone challenging me. I’d definitely rather be in this situation, which will make me a better player, and to take advantage of the opportunities that I do get. But, I’m very happy for Brian and I hope he does well with the National Team.”
You were part of a defensive unit that had the best goals-against-average in team history. How do you keep that going?
“One of the things we have is pretty much everyone is back defensively. So, the more games we play the chemistry is going to get better and better. I think guys like Brandon (Prideaux) and Bryan (Namoff) with the talk they provide, especially with guys like me in front of them, because they see the entire field, that helps a ton. The more we play together the less talking they will have to do and it should just come together. I think it will be better this year.”
What are your personal goals for this year?
“I guess to be a mainstay in the lineup. I want to eventually be a player that when somebody thinks of DC United they think of my name.”
How is preseason going for you to this point?
“Pretty good. I was banged up a little bit, but I’m back in the swing of things.
As a veteran, what can you tell me about how the team is progressing?
“To be honest it feels about the same as most of them. We’re at the beginning right now, and we’re working hard to get fit. That’s how it goes for the first few weeks of training camp – you’re just working hard, trying to avoid getting injured, trying to get your touch back, and trying to sharpen up. I’d say in a lot of ways it’s very similar.”
You did get a minor knock down here. Even if it was only four days does that set you back at all or somehow mess up your preseason routine?
“It’ll take me a few days to get back into the swing of things, for sure. Long term will it affect me? I don’t think so. Like you said, I’ve done this for a while now so I know what I need to work on and what I need to improve. Everyday I’m striving to do that.”
With the way the season ended last year, how are you as a team leader going to make sure the team does not suffer through that again?
“Every year is different The first thing we have to do is forget about last year. Of course, we need to take some things from that and learn from it. But, last year was last year. We just need to focus on the new year, and go out everyday and train hard, play well, play smart.”
“One thing we do need to improve are the mistakes, the mental errors. I look back on last season and times we just made silly mistakes. We’ve got a good group of players that work hard and have good team chemistry. All those things are in place for us to be a good team. So, if we just can improve not making mistakes. I think we’ll do well.”
How do you improve on the best goals-against-average in the team’s history?
“Like I said, we did play well statistically, but we still . . . If I look at games where we gave goals away. It was like, ‘Man that was stupid!’ So, you can always improve. It’s not like we were the best team ever in goals-against. So, we can improve.”
What are your thoughts on today’s game against Real Salt Lake?
“It looked like we weren’t in sync. A lot of it had to do with keeping possession of the ball and playing the ball out of the back. I think we can improve on that. It’s early and some guys aren’t sharp, like I mentioned, fatigue and that whole thing probably played into it a little bit. You never want to make excuses. We just weren’t good enough.”
One thing I noticed about the game is that it was rough. Did you feel that something was missing from the team in today’s game?
“I thought we were getting kicked a little bit. It is a physical game. When a team is kicking you a little bit you do kind of kick back. Not to hurt anybody or anything like that. But, it is a physical game. If one team is playing physical you’ve got to match that. Yeah, I was trying to do that a little bit.”
What are your personal goals for the year?
“I guess the first thing is . . . . staying healthy is the biggest thing. I don’t have anything like being an All-Star or anything like that. That goes without saying. Of course I want to do all that. . . . “
Score a goal?
“Yeah, I’d love to score a goal. I think the main thing is to get more consistent everyday.”