Practice Notes & Quotes 10-22-02

G – Rimando, McGinty
D – Reyes, McKinley,
M – Alegria, Villegas, Mapp, Convey, Olsen, Williams, Judah Cooks,
F – Curtis, Moreno, Quaranta

Also included in practice was “Abdul” – local kid from Sierra Leone.

Etcheverry missed practice. He is having some minor surgery on his right knee to clean up his torn lateral meniscus. He is expected to be ready for next season.

– Hudson will return from his trip later today. It isn’t positive that he will be at this weekend’s game against Aguilla in that he has yet another overseas trip planned.

– Nelsen was at practice and working out lightly with Physio Rick Guter.

– Quaranta, Convey, and Mapp stayed after practice for a solid ½ hour practicing one-time shots on goal under Asst. Coach John Trask’s eye. The trio will join the U-20 in the next couple of weeks for some preliminary practices before they head off to Charleston, SC for World Championship qualifier in mid-November.

– A story about the Tottenham trip relayed to me today:
The team was staying at a hotel on the Thames River. In the "olden" days the hotel was actually part of the river front – docks, ships, shoremen, etc – and holds its traditions. On one side of the hotel is an old Clipper ship landed to promote the seafaring nature of that part of town.
Asst. Coach Trask and a couple of other told RH to meet them early in the morning for a couple of mugs of frosty. "Meet us at the Clipper," said Trask. As the early morning hours rolled around, and RH finished his tasks, he went looking for the group. He found the grounded ship easy enough. He looked for a gangway to get into the pub. He looked through the porthole in attempt to see inside. Finally, he gave up in disgust thinking Trask and company had pulled a fast one.
The next day Trask asked RH, "Why didn’t you meet us?" RH responded angrily, "I did! You weren’t there! There isn’t even a pub at the Clipper!" Only then was the problem solved, the "Clipper" is the name of the pub located on the othe side of the hotel.

Ryan Nelsen
– How is the injured knee coming along?
“It’s coming along good. At the start I tried to get back as quick as possible because there were some games in New Zealand, and obviously the Tottenham game, but it just wasn’t going to come right. So, now it’s just like . . . taking my time. Rick Guter, the physio, has been really good. Now it’s coming along really good.”

– About how long to you expect before you can play competitively?
“I would say, if I really wanted to, and really had to get back, two weeks. But, the way I’m going, not being stupid about anything, I’m going to let it be about a month.”

– After you heal up are you pursuing going overseas for training with anyone?
“Yeah, I’ve been offered by a few clubs to come and train with them for the off-season?

– Who?
“Such as a couple of clubs in England and all that and a couple in Germany. Nott’s County for one has invited me down, and a couple of bigger clubs. But until the injury comes round I ignore it. I’m just trying to get myself right and get ready for the DC pre-season, to be ready for that.

– What are you looking to personally improve over the off-season?
“Yeah, of course there are a lot of things. For me I want to be a lot stronger, a lot fitter, a lot faster, and all that. Last pre-season I think it worked pretty good, and I’m just trying to keep doing it . . . just trying to get into a bit of shape to compete at high levels. I worked with a guy back in New Zealand who was fantastic, and I’m going to work with him when I go back (on vacation).

– Once Eddie Pope went off to the World Cup you stepped in and became arguably the best defender on the team. Are you going into next season expecting to be a starter even though you got a lot of good competition – Pope, Reyes, Prideaux, McKinley.
“Of course! It’s the competitive nature of a player. I think at the start of the season I was playing well. It’s just the coaches saw it differently, and that happens in any club – coaches see differently. When I got the opportunity, they saw that I could play. I hope I’ve proved myself to them that I can play. But, I’m going to be working hard to prove that because there are some obviously good players here.”

– Coach Hudson said that he wants to go with a 3-back line. Are you more comfortable with 3 or 4 in the back?
“I like playing in a 3(-back) . . . I like playing in a 4(-back) . . . It doesn’t really bother me at all. With a three you’ve got to have it organized. I think that was the problem at the start when you had Brandon, Eddie, and Milton who aren’t “organizers.” They are just man-on-man great defenders. That’s not their strength in organizing, while that is my biggest strength – organizing defenses. That’s probably why it went well when I got in there because I organized around.”
“I don’t care if they play 2 . . . I don’t care if they play 8 in the back. As long as you have a good system where everybody knows their job and their role, it’s easy to organize and easy to work it out. If you throw five people back there and don’t tell anyone anything it’s going to be a joke.”

– What’s your contract status?
“The league has an option. It’s like communism. They pretty much control everything. The contract I’m under I’m not really too happy with it. When come back next year I’m looking to get my green card so that’s money I’ve got to pay out of my own pocket as well – and that’s a lot of money to get it. At the moment I’m not really too happy with my contract.”

– Are you looking to make a move overseas?
“Obviously I can make a move anytime I want if I’m free. But, I love it here at DC. Everything is going good – blah, blah, blah – I’m enjoying it. Like I said, under my current situation I’m not too happy. And I’d like to think with what I gave DC this year, the coaches would see it, and understand it, and will address it with me instead of me coming to them kind of scenario.”

– Although you’re a player and you don’t make the decisions, what area does the team need to improve? Is it only on the field? Are there problems in the locker room?
“There’s definitely no problems in the locker room, it’s real good. What we need are hard working players. This league . . . personally I think this league is at such a good standard that you can’t carry players, you just can’t. No competitive league in the world plays with a player that can’t defend. You look at any league in England, any league in Germany, any league in Italy, if a team wants to get there, they just can’t carry players. I think the past couple of years we’ve been carrying players. The teams are just too good. I think you’ll find the teams that are playing with players that can’t defend are going anywhere – they’re not getting championships. I think guys like Cienfuegoes in LA are getting on the way out. I think LA understands that they need 10 hard working players. I think New England is a prime example of that. They had no superstars. They had players like Ralston – one of the hardest working players in the league. Look how they got going with no real superstars. That’s how it’s been with every team I’ve been on. They had 10 hard working players on the field at all times, and it’s always been a success.”

Asst. Coach John Trask
– What, if anything, was learned from the trip to England?
“I think the feeling of the team was excellent. It was the same for some of the big games during the season – there’s still a spirit in this team, DC United, a tradition that they want to go out and show well. That’s always a positive. Also, just seeing the recovery of Ben Olsen. He’s getting closer to international status again. And some of the other guys played very well. We were pleased with the way Jaime played. It was great seeing Santino back out on the field. Obviously having Jeff Agoos and Wade Barrett helped in the back. It was a great experience for everybody.”

– Before the trip you mentioned that you wanted to see intensity from the team even though it was only a friendly. Was that intensity there?
“Yeah, from my point of view, the work we put in with Greg Petrosian (Fitness Coach) in the last couple of weeks, the mental and physical fitness levels seemed to be much sharper. Dave Kasper mentioned to me that the guys just looked more powerful. I think that’s directly related to some of the training we’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks. The guys are starting to buy into it.”
“Obviously it’s easy to get motivated to play in Tottenham with 27,000 thousand people, on a perfect pitch, on a beautiful night, and playing the game for all the right reasons – for their past players who might have fallen on hard times. It was just a great evening and a great week of training over there. It was well put together.

– You took Wade Barrett, who is out of contract, on the trip. Is there any interest in signing him to DCUnited?
“I actually kidding Frankie (Yallup) how much Ray loved Wade Barrett and how much we’d love to get him. He said, ‘You had him for one game, don’t ever ask him for more than that.’ No, Frankie rates him very high. He’s all the right things about young American players – he works hard, he’s disciplined, he takes care of himself. He’s just a super young man – very articulate. He was a joy to have on the trip.”

– What about Ginola? Is DCUnited pursuing him actively?
“I don’t really have any comments on those types of players. Obviously he’s still a very gifted football player. He looked to be a few pounds over weight, but you never lose that ability. I think he’s only 34 years old. And he’s still a tremendously talented player.”

– Ryan Nelsen said that he’s not happy with his current contract. From the coaches’ perspective how important is he to DCUnited?
“In terms of his contract . . . I train the players, I don’t get involved in the business side of things. You’d have to talk to Dave Kasper or Ray Hudson on those sorts of things.”
“Yeah, Ryan is an important part of the team. We really like him. The league really likes him. He’s a great young man to have here – a New Zealand international. He’s the type of player who has had the opportunity to play over here, where maybe he couldn’t have gotten the games in Europe and developed. I would imagine that it is in his dreams to someday go to Europe, as with all players in this county. Right now we feel good about Ryan. He’s someone in that corps of players that we want to build the team around in the future.”

– With Mapp, Convey, and Quaranta, did you see any specific development of their game over the past season?
“I’ve known Bobby Convey since he was 15 years old – I was with the U-17 National Team – and I’ve watched Santino and Justin from a distance. It’s just ongoing. I don’t think we’re doing anything special with them. I’m just trying to tweak them a little bit with the U-20’s coming up for Thomas (Rongen). It’s going to be a big key for the country to do well in the qualifying in the U-20’s down in Charleston, South Carolina.”
“We’re just trying to continue to progress them as we would with any young player. That’s part of the role with coaching in this league. You don’t just worry about the superstars, or the kids that come out of college, or someone you’ve picked up out of A-League at 25 years old. Part of our responsibility is to develop young American players.”
“If you watched training today, these three young players are extremely gifted players. The coaches from Tottenham couldn’t stop talking about Bobby during training. They really rated him very highly. It was nice to see them rate a young American that highly. And of course, Benny Olsen, he was the last one brought forward by Bruce Arena and Thomas Rongen, and continues to escalate his game. He looks to be coming back well off this injury.”

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