Dyson’s Notes and Quotes

Head Coach Peter Nowak


– You’ve now been with the team for a month.  What is your assessment at this point?


“We’ve only trained for three days in that month.  I have talked with the guys, and now we’re getting into practice.  I’m very positive.  They’re trying to do a good job – they’re working hard.  They’ve come in from the off-season pretty fit.  So now we’re moving the team forward.  We’ve still got the guys from the Olympic Team to come back.  We’re set for Bradenton.  I’m very happy with the work that we’ve done in the last three days.  They are very . . . They really want to work, and for me that’s very positive.”


 


– Earlier this week you mentioned that you made changes in the team rules.  Why?


“These are the team rules that we are going to have.  They aren’t just for the team, but for the whole organization.  This is how this profession works.  I think they understand it, this is the way it’s going to work.”


 


– What type of changes did you make?


“I can’t tell you.”


 


– What positive things have you seen in the past month that you were not expecting?


“They understand where their careers are going.  They understand that without success, and without becoming hungry again, this is going to be another year wasted.  So, I think they understand the position they are in right now.  I’ve said it before that there are a lot of guys with potential, but they have to understand that they can’t lead with just this potential all the time.  They have to use their talents.  They have to show their talents to all the people, not just to prove it to themselves.  They are soccer players.  This is the profession that they want.  They have to prove it to me, and to all the organization, and to the fans that they deserve to be on the field, and deserve to be in this organization.  As I said in the press conference, if somebody isn’t going to follow the rules and the direction this team is going, then we’re not going to wait another minute.  We’re going to try to say good-bye to those kinds of players.  I’m very strict with them, but I’m very honest with them.  As I told them that’s the way this is going to go.”


 


– Are there any negatives about the team that have surprised you?


“No.  As I said, the fitness is pretty good after coming back from the off-season.  The guys coming back from injury – Milton Reyes, Nick Rimando, Santino Quaranta – they are doing very good.  Thiago Martins and Benny Olsen are still hurt, but they are getting better.  All the players did a good job with fitness.  The drafted players, Kevin Ara and Josh Gros, they did very well and came in fit.  As I said, it’s all very positive and no negatives.  But, the season is long and we’ll see what happens.”


 


– Along with the draft picks you have other young players on the team.  What is your approach with the young players?


“It’s not only the young guys.  I have twenty-four players I have to take care of.  Not only the players, but the front office, and others – Fransico (Tobar – Team Equipment Manager) and Brian Goodstein (Team Athletic Trainer) – all those people that are around the team, I’ve told them that we have to give them their respect because they are also doing everything they can to help the team.  I told my guys they have to appreciate their work.  I told them, ‘They are doing for you.  They are going to make your life easier and they are there every single minute for you.  This is the type of organization that we want, something like a family.  That is what a successful team, a championship team, is all about.”


 


– Do you have a ‘game plan’ for what you want to accomplish during Spring Training in Bradenton?


“This will be the only time where we have Freddy (Adu).  So we’ll get them rolling, and try to get a look at Freddy and where he fits into this team.  As I said before, it’s not what we’re going to do in the future with Freddy – it’s not one-hundred percent.  We’re going to have a lot of questions, but we’re going to get a lot of answers by the end of pre-season.  It won’t be easy, for sure, but we want to make this team better.  I think when we go to Guadalajara that is when we will work on our system and all that stuff.”


 


– How are you finding the adjustment from a player to an administrator last year to a head coach this season?


“I’ve lived so many years with soccer.  It’s in my head, it’s in my heart, it’s in my blood . . . these things just come naturally.  Last year it was what I was missing . . . being around the players . . . being around the game.  So, now I’m back.  I’m back in the fire.  I’m happy with my position.  I’m on the other side now.  The players, I think they understand my position.  I’m a players’ coach.”


 


Ryan Nelsen


What do you think of the changes in the team during the off-season to this point?


“It’s another new year.  Big characters have left, which is going to be a change, but obviously a change for the good because we haven’t done well, and we haven’t done well for a number of years.  As they say, there should be no excuses now.  We’ve got to go out and perform and not be happy with mediocrity.”


 


What are your impressions on Coach Nowak?


“He’s been fantastic so far.  I think what this team has lacked in the past few years is accountability.  What Peter brings is a very honest and professional outfit.  Now things can’t be done half-assed.  They can’t be done short of what it’s going to take to win here.  Peter knows that and expects it from the players.  There won’t be any allowances for certain players now.  Everybody is in it for each other.”


 


How are the new team rules changes affecting the team?


“I just think in the past it’s been different rules for different players.  You can’t run a business, you can’t rule anything well when that happens.  Now we’ve got one rule for everybody.  It’s all the same and it’s for the team.  It brings more of a team attitude in it.  There are no allowances and no give and take for anybody.  We’re all on the same page.  We’ve all got to climb up the same street.”


 


Although Etcheverry leaving is a big change, outside of that there haven’t been major moves in the off-season.  Does the current side have the potential to be a Championship team?


“Of course!  I’ve said this for a long time that I think DC United has always had the talent, and that’s why it’s so frustrating.  Since I’ve been here, we’ve always had good teams.  Everybody on a team is going to say that they have good teams.  They should that’s the parity of the league.”


“It’s the teams that stay organized, the most team oriented, that don’t have any individual problems, are the ones who are going to be successful.  San Jose and LA have proved that.  That’s how it is now.  This league is too good to have certain allowances for certain people.  This is a legitimate league.  Would they do this in Europe?  No they wouldn’t.  This is what I tried to stress last year.  Would Alex Ferguson do what he did with us?  Of course he wouldn’t.  But we seemed to have made allowances just because we’re MLS, which is rubbish.  We’re a legitimate league now.  We should be doing it how the best teams in world do it.  This is why Peter is so fantastic because he’s played for the best teams and he knows what it’s like.  Now he’s come in and that’s how it’s going to be.  It’s great.  It’s accountability, which I love.  If I play badly, I expect to be dropped.  If anybody plays badly they should expect to be dropped.  It’s as simple as that.”


 


Speaking of Europe, many rumors surround you moving there eventually.  What is your status?


“I don’t know where people say that I want to leave and all that.  For me, I’m under contract.  It’s been a long three years because I don’t think this team has been run professionally.  I think it can be done a hell of a lot better.  Peter has come in and already the change in attitude has been amazing.  That’s no disrespect to any of the coaches or the players that we’ve had before.  Everybody gets on a team that doesn’t do well, and we’ll all probably be on teams in the future that don’t do well.  I don’t mind losing.  But, it’s the way we lost . . . the way we went around on the day to day things that kind of frustrated me.  But, Peter has been fantastic.  I actually want to come to training everyday and work harder.  Everybody now wants to work harder, get fitter, get stronger, and you can just see it in all the players.”


 


Has Coach Nowak talked with you about your role on and off the field?


“No, we haven’t gone into anything like that.  Obviously we’ve got a long pre-season to work all that out.  As I said to Peter, I don’t care where I play.  Whatever helps the team.”


“The ideas and the attitudes that Peter’s trying to instill in the team has to come from the older players as well, it has to be reinforced by the older players.  He’s asked for that, which is fantastic because I’ve been trying to do that for a long time.  But we’ve got so many great personalities on the team such as Dema, Earnie, and Benny.  These guys have been around and we’ve got a good group of corps players.”


 


What your International schedule like this year?


“I think we’ve got a tournament in Australia around July for ten days.  If they do have friendly games, I don’t think I’ll go back until the end of the season.”


 


Ben Olsen


Comment on the changes during the off-season?


“I think it’s unfortunate for Ray.  He had a lot of work to do and we didn’t really perform for him, and that’s disappointing.  I really liked Ray a lot.  Marco . . . We’re going to miss Marco.  Marco was DC United.  I’m really going to miss Marco.  But, I think he’s ready to move on, and DC United is ready to move on as well on that side of things.  Marco is everything to this club and everybody knows that.  But, it’s time to move on and start the new season and figure out how we’re going to play.”


 


What are your initial impressions of Coach Nowak?


“It’s amazing the impact that he’s had already on the club – the clubhouse and on the field.  We’ve been dying for some structure and he’s the man to come in and do that.  That’s a big part of why he’s here.  He’s motivated, he’s very . . . he’s strict in a good way.  He’s got us regimented a little bit – clean up after yourself – the little things that I believe in.  I think that’s going to help these young guys to be professionals.”


 


Can you give specifics on what the team rule changes are and how they are affecting the team?


“That stuff is contagious.  When you set rules you start thinking of them.  The idea is that ultimately they make you more disciplined on the field, and a lot of times it does.  When I was in England it was a similar type of deal.  When you’re here, it’s time to play soccer, and it’s your going to do your job.  You’re going to do the little things that are going to make us more of a unit and more disciplined.  Hopefully that will carry over onto the field.”


 


What does this team need to do to improve over last year?


“We’ve got all types of things.  We made the playoffs, but it wasn’t a good year.  We didn’t end the year well.  We were in disarray.  I think they things we need to work on are being more of a unit and playing together, and having some type of system, and knowing who we are.  I think Peter’s here to instill that in us.”


 


How your injury?  What’s your schedule?


“The injury is OK.  My schedule is that I’m going to try to play in Florida.  I’m going to start my pre-season a week later than these guys.  It’s a bone bruise, but I feel OK.  It’s good that we know what it is.  It should be OK by Monday.”


 


How does it feel to be one of the ‘old guys’ on the team?


“I just look at Earnie Stewart (Stewart was in the room watching the interview).”


 


What do you think your chances are and what do you need to do to get back on the National Team?


“I can’t give you a percentage.  It’s just something that you always look for.  If I start playing well again, I’m confident that Bruce (Arena) will give me a shot.  That’s all I can ask for.  It’s been unfortunate the last couple of times with me getting injuries.  I’m sure my durability is a question in his mind.  But, I’m still going.  I had a big injury and I’ve got to realize that there are some things that come after that.”


 


Earnie Stewart


How does it feel to be the ‘old guy’ now?


“I don’t know, it’s just a number.  As long as you’re running up front it doesn’t matter.”


 


What are your impressions on the changes during the off-season?


“This is soccer.  Marco had some great accomplishments during his career with DC United.  Sometimes it’s time to pass on.  Marco made a decision to retire, and you have to respect that.  It’s really that simple.  Ray didn’t have a good season at all last year.  We had a pretty good stretch for a couple games, but they decided it was time to make changes.  Those are decision that I don’t make.  That’s soccer.”


 


What about Coach Nowak’s influence on the team so far?  What are the differences between now and last year?


“I don’t like to speak about differences because every coach brings their things to the table, and some things work out, and some things don’t work out.  I don’t compare them at all.  This is a new chapter.  He’s a very disciplined person, not only on the field but in the locker room.  That’s what he’s working on right now.  We spoke about that a couple of times last season.  He’s come here believing that with that discipline off the field, you’re going to be disciplined on the field.  Like Benny said a little while ago (see above), you can work towards being a solid unit with everything with that discipline.”


 


Last year you played in nearly every possible position on the field.  Many fans thought that you did not have any stability, which affected your overall play.  Have you and Coach Nowak talked about your role for this season?


“Not really specifics, but he did say that he’s not going to put me all over the field.  I don’t mind doing that.  Ray and John (Trask) were very honest about it last year and said that if anything went up they would probably have to move me left and right in the field.  I agreed to that.  I agreed to that and then you don’t bitch and moan.  I should have said something at the beginning of the season if I didn’t want to do it.  But, on the other side, it’s very hard to find your rhythm when you’re playing in different positions all the time.  Let me put it this way, it didn’t help.  That and adjusting to everything over here wasn’t easy.  Peter wants to do it different this year.  I’m looking forward to that.”


 


With the changes over the off-season, and the new team rule changes, do you get the impression that this team is going in the right direction?


“It’s very simple.  These are things that I’ve always been used to.  There are rules and you abide by the rules otherwise you don’t play or you don’t practice.  That can be a scary thought and everybody puts their nose in the right direction because they have to.  That’s sometimes very harsh, but you do feel that everybody is looking in the same direction.  I think it’s tremendous.”


 


What is your outlook for the National Team?


“I don’t know.  That’s in the future.  I’ll be the first one to jump on the plane if Bruce ever calls on me again.  I’ve just got to make sure I’m fit and in form.  He asked me when the season was over if I wanted to come into camp in January.  It’s been eight or nine years since I’ve had a vacation, so I really needed my rest for once.  So, I didn’t go into that camp, but he was talking about maybe somewhere down the line he might need me.  But, that’s all depending on form and fitness and everything.”


 


How do you rate your form and fitness at the moment?


“I’m in form for the pre-season – I just won eight soccer tennis games in a row.  Form is something that is here, and then it’s gone the next day.  That’s not what is important right now.  As for fitness, I’m feeling a lot better than I’ve felt in the last year.”

Post Game Quotes

Ray Hudson

– General Comments

‘Earned the win . . . a hard earned win in the end. The clamor for the young guns, the ‘Why aren’t I playing? . . . Why aren’t I getting more minutes?’ . . . Other than David Stokes and Doug Warren, any of them can come into my office, any day of the week, and bang on my desk, and get in fits of rages, and ask why they are not playing, and I’ll remind them of that game tonight. They’ve got a long, long f—— way to go, and it showed tonight. I’m disappointed with some of their performances. I thought all the veterans played great parts, but there are some young guns that are woefully short of where they think they are. And sometimes it takes that light to be put on them on the stage. The bugle calls and that’s it.’

– How do you think Quintanilla played?

‘Not bad . . . In and out in flits. In and out. That’s not a 90-minute extravaganza for sure. He’s a nice, technical, little player, that’s young, and has a long way to go. But he’s a neat, tidy little player. So is ‘Eski’, so is Brian Carroll, and so is Devin Barclay. I’d put them all in that category together.’

– How concerned were you about the outcome in the last few minutes of the game?
‘You know, if you’re going to f—— fluff away chances like that . . . If they had equalized I would have been blistering them in there (locker room). And it will come. I won’t happen tonight, but in the next couple of days I’ll have them in individually because this game should have been put away numerous times! This season has been that way for our first choice eleven. And when the kids get the opportunity to step up and say, ‘Give me a turn. I can do this’, and they flop. I think that’s what a lot of those performances were by the kids. And I don’t care if . . . I’m sorry for being so harsh. I’m sorry for harsh on the little darlings, but sometimes they need to get their (bum)s smacked, and they will.’

– Did the play of Pittsburgh surprise you at all?

‘We had them down. We had them buried. We had the tombstone on them. They’re a gritty little team. They didn’t lay down. I’ll tell you what, I liked the kid who scored the f—— goal! I liked him a lot! He knits his game together. Everything was just so . . . We earned the right ? we got the two goals, and I’m just . . . I was just disappointed with the manner which they eased off when we were 2-0 ahead. But that’s youth. That’s kids. That’s inexperience, naiveté . . . call it what you want.’

– Are you going to use a different approach in the next match?

‘No! I’ll put them in again! I’ll let them drown again if they want. That’s the only way they’re going to learn. I appreciate that. These are the few situations that they get to strut their stuff. And I’ll give it to them again. I’m not going to hide them, but it’s disappointing. Am I pleased? No. Were there any impressive performances by any of these kids that are supposed to be this, that, and the other? No. They were sub-standard, and I mean right across the board ? you put Quaranta in there as well. Eskandarian . . . These guys have got to start living up to their big reputations. I don’t know where it’s come from I tell you. And I mean this is halfway through the season and John (Trask) and I considerate, and we molly-coddle them as much as anybody. A lot of them have had silver spoons stuck so far up their a—- for so long . . . They’ve got to get their crib rattled. For me it’s just not good enough for DC United. And the thing is, if they honestly feel they played up to their ability and reputation, and they showed enough to earn a place in the starting eleven, I’ll laugh at them in their faces because you couldn’t compare half of those players to our starters.’

‘Sometimes it’s just got to be said. We’ve been hiding behind statues for a long time. And we’ve been hiding behind young reputations with potential. Sometimes they’ve got to hear it in big block letters, rather than having them stroked all the time.’

– Were the Stoichkov and Namoff substitutions done to give them a run-out, or because you were worried about Pittsburgh coming back?

‘I think everybody wants to see Hristo Stoichkov. These people paid their money, and he’s always worth paying for. I didn’t think the result was ever going to be in doubt. We did enough, but it’s not good enough ? it’s just not!’
‘I?m not going to feel f—— guilty about protecting these players anymore. They need to be held accountable. I’m sick of it! It’s like ‘He’s this . . . he’s that . . . He’s a neat little player’ . . . that f—— s— that wrote about a player. F— that! It’s not good enough! This isn’t McDonald?s football. This isn’t bloody recreational soccer! This is a professional outfit and you’ve got to do it on both sides of the ball. And when you get your chances, can you put one out of four away? Do you think you can do that? Do you think you can just put one out of four? No, can’t do that, sorry.’

– What’s the status on Petke’s injured ankle?

‘Well, we took the precaution of taking him out, so I hope he’s going to be alright for Saturday. I think he will be.’

– Any more definition on what the team lineup will be on Saturday? Will Etcheverry play?

‘It’s very possible. I’d love to see Marco fit enough and hungry enough to get in because I want Etcheverry on the field, and I want him soon as possible, and I want him fit. He can bring an awful lot. He’s still the best player we’ve got when he’s right. And I hope he’ll be right for Saturday. I’ll definitely want to play him.’

Young Guns II – The Day After

Ray Hudson

– After thinking about it for 24 hours, has your opinion changed about the play of the younger players in last night’s game? After all, they did win the game.

‘You know, I’m not going to make any apologies to anyone for holding players accountable for game-time, show time performances. I had words with them individually. We made the right move. It was a brave decision. We did what any big club does ? playing young players and getting a result. By that part, I commended the team. When we were 2-0 up, that’s where the youth, and naiveté, and inexperience comes in. This isn’t dancing school. Sometimes these kids, who have had silver spoons in their mouths for so long, and they get by, John (Trask) and I have been very, very patient, but there’s times where you feel it’s necessary to really crack the whip. That’s the way it’s all over the world, and that’s the way it should be in this country, but it really isn’t. But to some people, who are naïve to the nuts and bolts of the working week, and game-time preparation for the big league, need to come to terms with that. This isn’t the f—— school where you go to learn etiquette ? finishing school. And sometimes there’s different ways to get through to people, and last night I reached a point where it wasn’t the required article. . . .’

‘I found things to like in Brian Carroll’s first half. He didn’t build on that in the second half. I found a lot to like in ‘Stokies’ performance. Doug Warren, only idiots would say that he didn’t have much to do. That’s the sign of good goalkeeper ? how he organized his defense, how he managed his whole overall 90-minute game. That was a very, very good goalkeeping performance . . . .’

(Note: At this point, the tape in the recorder needed to be flipped. Hudson went on to comment on Barclay ? ‘who had good moments’, Quintanilla ? ‘contributed, but not for the whole 90-minutes’, Eskandarian ? ‘played hard, but must finish his chances’. It picks up with Hudson explaining his responsibility as coach to the young players.)

‘. . . . We don’t believe that you inject that sort of performance into a player. We create a great environment for these players to rise to the occasion. And there’s been times where they’ve stepped up and done it! Last night, collectively, they really didn’t. And I think they got caught in amongst each other, especially in the second half.’

‘We brought Ali Curtis along tremendously well, but we’ll never get any credit for that. That’s all forgotten. I don’t think Bobby Convey has played better, in the central midfield since I put him there. I did that, nobody else did. Bryan Namoff has come along in leaps and bounds. The other kids, from this year’s draft, are taking longer than what we thought.’

– One argument would be that you should have played them in games, like coaches Bradley and Sarachan, in order to give them more game time development. Why hasn’t that been the case? And in hindsight, do you think they should have been given playing time before this?

‘If you think that 5 or 10 minutes would make the difference, I’d argue. Certainly whenever we’ve had an opportunity we’ve always been in a dogfight of a game. That’s the dilemma. Do you go to those sorts of players, or do you let the veterans grind it out?’

‘We’ve thrown some bones to the kids on some occasions. I haven’t got the records, but whenever we’ve got the opportunity to bleed some kids in . . . What? Do you think this is personal? Do you think that we got something against youth? It’s not that way at all. It’s selecting the right time and the right situation to bleed these kids in. Alecko has played a lot of minutes for this club. He’s had the opportunities; he’s had a lot of times. Brian (Carroll) and David (Stokes) have been behind the curve. David Stokes proved last night that he’s pretty close to being ready. He stepped up.’

‘In this league, where the learning curve is pretty much 90-degrees, you’re going to take some major gambles in putting that in. I don’t think we’ve been in a position to take those opportunities to gamble on the outcome of a game when nearly every game has been overtime, or a one-goal game. They have not shown me . . . and where are these people? Do they see them during the working week? Do they see how far short they are in terms of technique, or athleticism, or command? We see them every working hour, every working minute. We see them when they don’t do well in a scrimmage or a regular routine. It stands for something. That’s how you build up your credibility up, and you build your trust up. These other teams have found that in their players. I’m sorry, but I’m not God. I cannot put in what God left out, and I think we do a pretty good job speeding it along. But, it ain’t my fault when the ball comes and you can’t pass it five yards. They’ve got to do that; they got to take responsibility on themselves.’

‘I have absolutely no apologies for anybody that thinks we haven’t got a good youth policy system. These are my youth players. We brought these players in. They have got to prove themselves worthy. Like I said, we played a brave card there last night. We didn’t play a full team.’

– Because of salary cap and roster size limitations ? not having a youth squad ? and not being able to use them in games, how do you develop the young players to the right level?

‘We get them away on loan. We get the kids away as best we can. Doug Warren, Brian Carroll, David Stokes have all been away to the A-League teams, and I think that’s done them some good. But, there’s no short-term answer. There’s no quick fix. They really have to convince us in a multitude of ways that they’re ready. And we don’t hesitate on throwing Alecko in. We’ve never hesitated on him in particular. Devin Barclay, you’ve seen the emergence of him during the working week, he’s really starting really knock on the door. Stokes is starting to confirm it a little bit more after that performance. It’s just not going to come over night or 3 or 4 months after they come out of the college system. That’s pretty much the way it is.’

‘We’re happy with what we’ve got out of the draft this year. We’re very pleased. But, I’m not going to force the sand through the hourglass. I’m just not going to do it because in my opinion they’re just not there. And when it gets confirmed like last night, they’re still f—— after you!’

Post Game Quotes

Bob Bradley

General Comments

‘A wild game! . . . First, let’s cover a few things. I don’t know how much longer we’re going to have Timmy Howard, but I think he gave us a few more memorable saves to remember him by as he moves on. Certainly the one on Quaranta that was over his head, where he was able to chase it down and knock it over, was just an amazing thing. And then our youngster, I had to say to him, ‘We can still use you, but we’re going to have to stick you in the goal for a second.’ Not much phases him. But, from our standpoint there were a lot of factors, a bunch of guys, playing down a man, sticking together, and coming away with a result. That means a lot to a team that is trying to grow. That more than anything is what we’ll take away from this game.’

Even though you were playing down a man, what did you tell them at half time to get them to come out and out play DC United?

‘Just that we had to stay organized. When we got the ball we had to still be able to play and keep it a little bit so that we weren’t just sitting in our end the whole time. And that they weren’t going to get a lot of chances, but they were going to get a couple that were going to come our way.?

Do you think the exploitation of the GK substitution loophole was in the spirit of the game?

‘Those are the rules in our league. So you have the opportunity to use a fourth sub if that’s how you do it. When you have a bunch of guys that work hard and give everything they have, and are cramping, and you’re playing the game down a man, in this heat on this afternoon, then you look after your players first. That to me is the most important part of the spirit of the game ? you look after your players.’

Can you talk about Eddie Gavin? It looked like you put him in at the right place, at the right time.

‘Well, he’s very good at running with the ball. That’s one of his greatest skills. When he gets the ball and runs with it he can make plays. He was able to get the ball and run with and place it into the far corner. Pretty good stuff.’

Can you talk about the back line, especially the play after the red card, and putting Ziadie in central defense?

‘I thought Craig played very well. I thought his positioning was very good and we could get things back together. It was good to get Chris Leach on the field ? it’s been a lot of weeks keeping him out. They did a good job of staying organized and winning the plays. It was a step forward.’

All year long you’ve relied on young players. Many would like to know what is the secret to you making them successful?

‘Young players always want to play, and they’ll give you everything they have. It’s just having good young players ? that’s first, and showing confidence in them in certain situations that they will help the team. And knowing they are good players and that they will get their chances.’

What did you think of the referee’s double yellow on Arena?

‘I thought the first yellow came quick. It might have been his first foul. And once that happen, with the spot that he was in, on the second one you probably have to give that one. He put himself in that situation because he was quick to put himself in that situation.’

Can you talk about Jaime Moreno’s play?

‘I think Jaime was pretty motivated to play today. The last few weeks of training you could see him getting his confidence back, you could see him getting fitter. Now we just have to keep going step by step. We weren’t going to be stupid about it and try to push him too far today. We had an agreement that it was going to be somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes, and then we’ll build on it and see if next week he can go a little bit longer. But it’s good to have him back.’

Was Ali Curtis speed effective against your defense?

‘I actually think we hurt ourselves with some bad turnovers and our defense was caught in between. That’s when they were able to punish us. The game started, and I thought DC came out early and press in midfield and get after the ball, and I didn’t think we handled it well.’

Was that the difference in the second half – not turning the ball over, or DC not pressing?

‘I think the weather plays a role. Early in games like that you have to get through it without losing bad balls. I felt there was a point in the first half there was more room to play balls. I was yelling on the field, ‘Now you can get things going!’ But early in the first half we didn’t handle it well at all.’

Were you surprised by DC United’s lack of urgency in the second half?

‘I was watching my guys. . . . On our end you try to stay organized, try to stay patient, you need your goalkeeper to make some saves, which we sure had that going for us.’

Ray Hudson

General Comments

‘An awful loss. I don’t know what Man United is paying our league for Tim Howard, but it cannot be enough. We had a multitude of chances throughout the game. It was an exciting game. Far more chances fell to us from the first minute right up until they got the winner. That’s nothing new.’

‘I thought there was some disgraceful sporting behavior on their part, but that’s nothing to do with the result.’

‘I honestly thought and felt that it’s got to come. That’s the way this season’s gone. We’re just on the wrong side of it, and we’ve been that way all year. I cannot ask that much more of the guys ‘a great, great effort.’

‘I think there’s a couple of things that aren’t going to change until certain things happen, which probably won’t happen until next year. But, I’m still proud of the team with the effort and commitment, and the chances they made for each other. How can you fault Ali Curtis? Mike Petke? Ryan (Nelsen)? Galin (Ivanov)? Namoff? There were some tremendous performances. I just thought it was really going to slot in for us with the chances, but Howard was monumental.’

Can you comment on the lack of urgency during much of the second half? Was it because the team was confident that a goal would eventually come?

‘I was disappointed with the second half, especially because we were up a man, not to take them more in that central midfield area. That’s where I thought we would really hurt them and drive on. Because we played so many balls over the top a lot of the time, I thought we’d be able to better connect in the second half ? going in fresh and confident. We were confident that it was going to come in the second half.’

‘But you’re right, there seemed to be that lapse ? it was inevitable, and it was going to come. But having said that, after we got through that awkward period we had many chances later in the game. You have to earn it. It’s not just going to come by a favor. I thought when we made a couple of changes, and the changes were knocking on the door again . . . it’s been that way all year. It’s continual. It’s frustration. And when they stick the dagger in your eye at the end, that’s a real kick in the b—-.’

‘But a tie would have been disappointing. I would have had this same somber voice that I have now. But the loss is a real heavy body blow to us, and the guys have got to pick themselves up, and we’ve got to see if we can make a change to affect the team.’

Can you talk about the GK substitution?

‘That was a lot of stuff. But I’m not crying about that. You heard the crowd. There were some things that were a bit out of order. But that’s not the story of the night, it’s just a little side thing. . . . it’s just another chapter in this season. Tough f——- luck.’

‘We’ve got to turn that into our advantage and we seem to be incapable of turning that adversity of another team, when they’ve been under pressure and we’ve got them on the ropes, and we cannot hit them with that killer punch. It’s not like a just a thing up front. It’s not like a guy putting away goals in the net. For me there’s something much more central. There’s something much more involved, and I think if you ask a lot of our guys they’ll elude to it. I’ll not say it. I don’t mean to be cryptic. You have to have a lot of respect for what is here.’

Do you feel any pressure on your job?

‘Sure, you always feel that sort of pressure when a team is . . . you cannot change a whole side. Something is needed to get us over. I’ve tried everything I know, and the guys have backed me up. That’s Manchester United’s goalkeeper that saved three shots. You could go to La Bombonera, you could go to Bernbeu, and you won’t see goalkeeping like that ? that’s sublime. And he defied us! And that’s part of the thing ? you invest in a great goalie and that’s what you’re going to get. Howard was the big difference. It wasn’t anybody else. And that’s an aspect where it can cost people their jobs. I understand that. If that’s what the management wants to do, that’s what it’s going to be. I’m not going to go in and throw myself on a sword because I think the players are backing me up the best they can.’

‘But it comes to a point also, and this really important also, that it gets to this point where we’ve been so close, and we’re clinging by our finger nails, that we need to shake the tree. There’s two ways of doing that: You remove the coach; or the coach makes changes that are very hard to do. I would like to hope that the club gives me the opportunity to do that because I’ve trusted a lot of players, I’ve put my faith in a lot of players, and they’ve done their damn best. But now maybe, it’s time to give one or two people who have been on the sidelines their opportunity to salvage this season and the hot water that we’re in. So we’ll see. . . .’

‘The club has always given John and I, and Dave Kasper pretty much carte blanche. They’ve been nothing but supportive. But there’s always that you want to be respectful of the club and the heritage and everything like that, so you always try to build that part of the equation into it, and that’s what we’ve done this year. And we’ve been moderately pleased with it. It’s come down to a point tonight where you think, ‘This is the turning point . . . this is the Last Stop Saloon,’ even perhaps for me. We need to start getting this more in focus. That’s the way a season goes. Tough, tough game ? so close and so far. And that’s the way it’s looking. We don’t want to lose pace with the pack.’

‘And I’m certainly understanding of any feeling from the club . . . I’ll still be a DC United fan, and I’ll still come to every game because I believe that these guys.’

‘And maybe we are a player short as well. And that will change soon as well. And that may be the last roll of the dice.’

Ali Curtis

Lack of finishing chances hurt the team again. Comment?

‘Yeah, it’s been a long season, it’s been a hard season. It’s just one of those days where you can do a lot of those things right offensively and defensively, and have a lot of shots that went on goal. Timmy (Howard) made a lot of great saves. They cleared a lot of balls. I think they cleared one of Santino’s right off the line. It was just a tough loss for us. I thought we went forward well, and we just didn’t get the win . . . didn’t get the result. We’ll just have to start off again strong on Monday and get ready for Saturday.’

Was this the toughest loss this season?

‘It really hurts hard. We got rolling with a road win in Dallas, and came in here with a lot of confidence. We started right from the beginning whistle and going positively at New York. We got a goal lead on them, and then they came back, but we came back again. I think the crowd sensed that we were going to win this game, and I think we sensed that we were going to win this game. It just didn’t happen for one reason or another, and it hurts very bad.’

What happened with the loss of urgency in the second half by the team? Was it the heat?

‘Every guy on this team is fit. I don’t know what happened. They were down a man and it was the perfect opportunity to get on them real quick, and we didn’t do that. It was as if we gave them a couple of minutes to get back in the game, gave them the opportunity to waste some clock, and we let them have it. That really hurt us in the end.’

Ryan Nelsen

You’re wearing the captain’s armband for the second game. Was this selected by the players or by the coach?

‘I think it was a discussion between Marco and the coach. They decided that Marco needed to concentrate on his game and all this. I think everything worked well on Wednesday, and Marco and the coach asked me if I wanted to take it. And I was very proud to take it for DC United.’

Is this the most disappointing loss of the year?

‘It’s disappointing of course, especially considering how many chances we had. I don’t know how many chances were cleared off the line. It was unbelievable. But that’s why this game is so great ? you can dominate a game so much, and then it can bite you in the behind.’

The season is only half finished. Does the team need to make major changes?

‘That’s up to the coaches. That’s what they’re paid to do. I think, ‘Yes.’ I think it’s obvious that you can’t meander along as we have in the past two years, and we haven’t gotten anywhere. We’ve just got to just find a way to win. If that means to play Brian Carroll, or to play David Stokes, or the likes of these guys who are going to give it everything, then it’s got to be done. I think names have got to go out the door. The so-called ‘names’ of this club are not performing. We’re not winning. So we’ve got to find ways to win.’

The season has been up and down, even this week has been up and down.

‘Of course it’s disappointing because you come from a game in Dallas where DC United played exactly the way we want to play, and I think we had the players on the field that could do it. And then you come back home, to the home fans, and we let them down. Saying that, we had our chances to win this game. We had so many chances to put this game away.’

Ben Olsen

‘This was a very, very tough loss. And we’ll see now who on this team has the character to stick it out, and get back into it. There’s 16 games left. It’s not the end of the world. But this is a tough one. We’re all feeling this one pretty deep down, and we need to bounce back. And we need to bounce back in a big way. We need to start getting the points. Again, it’s going to be a big time gut check for us, and hopefully we’re up for the challenge.’

Coach Hudson was saying that some players are getting the job done. Is that what the player see?

‘I’m not commenting on that. I’m not going to get into ‘who’s doing it . . . and who isn’t.’ We’re a team right now, and it’s so easy to do that right now. We need to go back and sort things out as a team. We’re going to be OK. We still have the talent on this team to be a contender in this league. We were unlucky today as well. Timmy Howard came up huge in an impressive performance. And the Metrostars had an impressive performance. That was a big time, gutsy performance.’

Notes and Quotes

Attendance:
G – Rimando, Warren, Geddes
D – Petke, Prideaux, Ivanov, Namoff, Stokes
M – Alegria, Quintanilla, Olsen, Quaranta, Kovalenko
F – Curtis, Stoitchkov, Barclay, Eskandarian

Notes:
Etcheverry is still in Bolivia. He is expected to return late Thursday night.

“Gooch” Onyewu will be working out with the team over the next couple of weeks.

Several UMD players were also included in practice, such as Nino Marcantonio, Scott Buete, and Noah Palmer.

Carroll is on loan to Richmond for 2 weeks. Warren is expected to play for Richmond Friday night, but will be available for DC United on Saturday. Stokes will be joining VA Beach for a short loan.

Cureton and Silvio will finish their trials on Friday.

Practice:
Certainly Jaime Cureton is ending his trial on an up note. He managed to be involved in 3 goals in the mini-scrimmage. The first came off break down the flank by Barclay. His cross to the middle of the box hit a puddle and slowed. Cureton and Rimando reached it at the same time, but Cureton managed to back heel it to Q2 on the far post. The second came off a steal in midfield and a quick out to Q2 on the flank. Q2 sent a perfect through ball to a streaking Cureton, who slotted the ball past an outstretched Rimando. The final goal for Cureton came from a quick cut through the box and slotting through a screen of defenders for a goal. Silvio also showed well during the scrimmage with a strong lay out header that whipped past Warren.

Quotes:
Hudson
Can you comment on the two trialists?
“It’s not easy. They’ve both got qualities and they’re both different. And we’re not held to pick one of these two, but they’re both throwing their hat in the ring. Jaime has looked the sharper of the two around the goal. He’s definitely a poacher, definitely a sharp guy that will be difficult to handle. But, Silvio has a great physique and he moves better along the line than Jaime. It’s hard to judge in 2 or 3 days, but they’ve showed enough to say they could be on our team. They are certainly good enough to start on our side. The question now becomes ?What’s the value?’ What’s the best money for us. If they are too expensive we have to look further down the feed line. And that’s the way we’ll analyze this.”

Are they better than any of the previous trialists? Dalglish? The Brazilians?
“Yes, for sure. Paul was a nice player, but at the end of the day it’s like ordering a meal at a nice restaurant. That’s the thing, you’ve got to look for the best bang for the buck. And we’ve got a couple of others that we’re seriously thinking about. The decision isn’t made just yet. There’s going to be a couple of restless nice for sure.”

How long would it take between making the decision and getting a player into a game? How long would it take to get a work visa?
“Probably about 2 weeks I believe. I think they can get the work visa in around 15 days or something like that. . . . He would miss about 3 games. . . .”

“Like I said, there’s a couple of other know commodities, and then there’s other as well that are dying to get in! We got a call this morning from a player that would make you s— your pants!”

Who?
“My ass! (Dave) Kasper would string me up by my f—— b—– if I told you this one!”

Give at least a hint? What country? What level of play?
“(French) Non! Non monsieur! Je n’c’est qua . . . I say nothing!”

Reports are saying that many players in Europe are looking to come to the USA because the money isn’t there anymore. Comment?
“And they’re not going to make a lot of money here, but it’s America. Honestly, it’s . . that f—— World Cup and what Bruce (Arena) and the lads did, I said it then, people don’t know the domino effect that had. I awoke the world. The league and exposure it’s getting on Fox Sports World . . . the awareness of our club in particular with Europe have been sporting some incredible inquiries to the extent that you think, ?You’ve got to be f—— joking!’ These are just amazing.”

“Honestly, these are just pie in the sky type stuff. It’s nice to know that our league is looking that way.”

“I think the league needs to take a look at it at the end of this season big time.”

Do you consider this a ?buyer’s market’ and the league needs to raise the salary cap, or add the number of foreign players, or consider 1 loan per team per year?
“Of course! . . . Absolutely! For the quality to go up. Like I said, we’ve said that this needs to happen for the quality of the league. They’ve always frowned on that. They don’t want it to be a transient league. They don’t want to it to be a developmental league. Fair enough! But, we’re losing money and we need to put asses in the seats! If we can get these great f——- names in here for one season, then that’s what we should do. And it’s not just the great lads in their prime. It’s lads like Jaime Cureton. He could’ve been in the Premiership with Reading if not for the sake of a playoff game. They’re looking to get over here. It’s a viable alternative now, and the league is aware of it. The league is going to do some real serious re-thinking of it I believe.”

Are you cautiously optimistic that the goal-scoring problem is solved?
“No, I don’t honestly believe it is. The problem as it stood with the lack of wins – not the lack of competitiveness or lack of quality – we all kept believing we were going to get it. With all the ?Doubting Thomas’ the question is . . . . that’s understandable, but they ain’t here in the mud. They didn’t understand what we believed. You guys knew because you were here, but they didn’t see it. We’re right there. Finally we broke out of it. We need to make a punctuation mark of it on Saturday. This is another must win game because we need to re-emphasize everything we’ve been doing good through the season. Now that we’ve finally gotten over the hump, we really need to put the f—— peddle down – really start driving it home. And they’re capable of it, this team. They know it and they’ve got to take it out again this Saturday. I believe we’ve weathered a tough storm and now we’ve got the wind and the sails and we’ve got to f—— go for it now. If we don’t do it now, it will leave us. This is a seriously big game for us and we’re not letting our guard down.”

Quaranta is healthy, so are you starting him or going with Stoitchkov and Curtis?
“Ali and Hristo are starting. Santino’s quality is coming back, and we’ll give him a good half-hour again on Saturday. If things go well he should be back in the line-up. But, let’s hope we keep him out of the lineup. Let’s hope when Ryan (Nelsen) and Bobby Convey and Earnie Stewart come back . . . I mean, that’s the way I’ll do it. I may not do it with everybody, but these guys have got to know that they will be rewarded. The guys have got to know as long as they are keeping their guard up, they’ll be fine.”

The defense is possibly the best ever for DC United.
“You know, Petke still hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves. He’s turned the corner with the fans, but . . . I hope a lot of people start to get what Dave, and John (Trask), and I are all about. These were hard decisions. We believed in Petke. And at one-third the price that we were paying the other guy. He’s always in practice, always standing up on Saturday. This was a good move, and it was a tough move because the fans f—— hated Mike. And now they adore him. He’s a poster boy for these guys. It’s not over, but he’s established his ground head. He’s leading from the back.”

“Ryan Nelsen is the most under-rated player in MLS.”

“And Ivanov is class and poise”

“And Brandon played pretty solid. I think his passing game needs constant work, and he’s not happy with it. But he’s a solid little defender.”

“And the other guys that have come in and plugged in like Namoff . . . it’s been tremendous.”

“And Nicky has been such a barking dog to keep the guys right.”

“In order to re-construct this team we had to make those tough decisions. These weren’t just like pondering over a cup of coffee, they were agonizing decisions. And again, I still think we need to tweak this team. I still think we need to bring a player or two, and then I’ll be happy. It hasn’t all worked out. We’re not basking in the f—– sunshine thinking that everything is solved. We ain’t that good yet, that’s my belief. This rebuilding doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes time. The way we’ve added to this roster, especially the young guys, I’m delighted. The way Devin (Barclay) is looking, I’m sick that he can’t get a look. The kid is looking super – he’s looking super. I’ve got to start to try to get these kids in games.”

Are you going to consider the Open Cup competition as important as the drive for the playoffs?
“You know, if you get knocked out in the first round, or first few rounds, it’s a black eye and everybody forgets it. But I remember when I was with the Fusion and we got to that final, it was like playing for the World Cup for those lads. The sense of achievement round after round overcoming adversity really helped build our team down there and built a foundation for them the next year. This club demands it. It’s not a case of ?Let’s throw the kids in.’ We’ll look to get the games won and put out of reach, then start bringing the kids in, just like we do in every game. We’ll take it very seriously.”

DC United vs. Chicago Fire – Complete Quote Transcript

Dave Sarachan
Opening Comments
“It was a tough night to play. The conditions weren’t easy with the field. No excuses. I didn’t think we had our best night with the ball, to be honest. I thought DC played like the home team tonight. They were aggressive, did pretty well with the ball, found space ? Marco had space. They hurt us on the flanks a little more than I thought they would. I’d like to see the replay on the penalty. That’s going to happen. I didn’t think it was (a penalty), but that’s soccer.”


“I’ll give our guys a little bit of credit in the second half. I thought they came out and competed. We did have a situation where we were down 2-0 against Kansas City and came back. We thought that if we could get the first goal in the second half we’d have a chance. It just wasn’t our night with the ball. We didn’t do a good job with the ball.”


What was the explanation to you for the penalty?
“I didn’t really get a full explanation. The ball was shot, I’m told the ball was going out. Our guys all saw the referee point to the corner, DC appealed it, and he pointed to the spot. It hit him, I think, in the shoulder.”


“The way I understood it, it was a handball. But, you’re getting our perspective – the losing team’s perspective. Our guys are generally pretty honest. They thought the ball was going out. The referee pointed to the corner, and then he reversed himself and pointed to the spot.”


How do you account for 2 games with four goals, and none during this game?
“Last year is last year. It’s soccer and it changes week to week. It’s not easy to play in RFK. Like I said, it was a little tougher conditions. From top to bottom in our league there’s not a lot of difference, in my opinion. On certain days it’s not going to be easy. Like I said, I didn’t think we did great with the ball. We’re capable of being more dangerous than we were tonight.”


Was a big factor not having Armas or Bocanegra available? Is that a major concern over the next couple of months?
“Not really. I say that, but I didn’t think Marco (Etcheverry) hurt us that bad. Like I said, I thought the flank play hurt us a little more than the central play. In our system I think we can adapt and do all right. Sure, we’re going to miss Chris and Carlos. But I think we’ve got some young kids that can step up.”


Ray Hudson
Opening Comments
“This is what heaven feels like. This is how heaven looks. Truly it’s a great feeling to get that win. It’s more of a spiritual win, but it’s a win that we absolutely, unequivocally deserved.”


“I’m not happy . . . not happy. This harkens back to last season. But it’s true, we should have scored a hat full of goals tonight. But the guys at the back, starting with Rimando stretching his fingernails on that save to keep a blank sheet. The three guys at the back, such class. They didn’t bother us. I don’t know how it looked. We fell away a little in the second half ? we lost our way ? but, it never troubled us. The guys at the back were superlative. Midfield, tonight we saw that unselfishness give the reward of a win. Bobby Convey and Marco Etcheverry defensively worked so hard, and there so many sacrifices in that middle of the field, with Ryan Nelsen anchoring so wonderfully well. And those little yo-yo’s on the outside, Kovalenko and Bennie Olsen, were great. And then you come to the hero of the night, Ali Curtis, I don’t know how the hell to describe him. The bugle calls, and I don’t know what they put into those Duke kids, but every time. I think that’s the best game in Ali Curtis’ career since he was a little boy, it’s got to be. The hits he was taking, the runs that he was making, the menace that he was, the improvisation that he does . . . he’s not in Stoitchkov’s class, but he dragged that team tonight. And Eliseo buzzed and cut, and should have had one or two chances. But right the way through the team, great. And it was backed up with a hardy performance.”


“We knew we had to win. The battle cry tonight was ?It ain’t us. It ain’t me, John (Trask), and the coaching staff. You guys should have won at least one-half of these games ? at least 9 points ahead. You guys have earned that. Tonight you’ve got to do it, or else.’ And if that’s what it takes, that’s what it’s going to be. But they responded brilliantly. And I thought we were very much deserving of the victory. We were both missing big players. But, are you kidding me? There was only one team that should have won that tonight.”


What is it about Curtis’ style that makes him effective?
“Did you ever see a hand grenade tossed into a hen’s nest? That’s what he’s like. Ali, just do what you f—— do, just go ballistic. You know? Just go f—— ballistic. But tonight he showed more poise and more . . . he was taking his hits, he kept on showing when they were kicking him from the back. He kept on showing brave. Have we had that before? We still need more, and it’s coming!”


“I’m not happy.”


“But, this was great for them lads in there. They needed this like oxygen. They needed this like that oxygen mask when you just about to go the other way. If this team had lost tonight, I’m not sure where we would have been, just spiritually, because we know that we’ve been so damn close so many times, and it means nothing. All the long knives are out, all the cat calling, all these f—— guys who f—– says, ?It’s this, that, and the other’ ? the know-alls . . . We know we’ve been that close. And tonight we had a forward that was an antagonist, and just gave us more beef up front.”


“I said before we went out, because one or two of the lads have come in and said and had talks with me, ?When’s Ali going to get his chance?’ It been hard because we see him day to day in practice, and we’ve told him he’s doing very well. I don’t know if that’s the difference. It was Ali’s night tonight. He was the rallying cry tonight. I think his unselfishness and his crashing was the difference.”


“Honest, those other performances tonight that were very special to me tonight. I had meetings, and I’m not going to go into details, but I had meetings, some pivotal meetings with certain players, that needed to step it up in a very definitive way, on a bad pitch, on a bad night, on one of situations on a teeter-totter, which way is it going to go. Well, they made it go their way. They made it.”


What was your opinion of the penalty kick?
“Well, which one? Convey’s one should have been a penalty. I thought it was . . . it looked like from my point it was a penalty. Are you f—— kidding me? The ones that have been taken off the table from us? I don’t even want to go down that road because you hope it levels itself out. I’ve said to so many of you guys that I hope it just balances out over the season. It seemed to be a penalty. I don’t know. There’s a billion-thousand things going on in my head during the game, but I remember the instance. I looked like it from my view, but so did the other seven that we haven’t been given. So, who knows? And it nice to get that little break.”


“You know, I hope it was a penalty. That would be beautiful! Lady luck is starting to show her teeth instead of her ass to us. She’s starting to give us a little break. That would be beautiful, warts and all. We stole one.”


“But, in all honesty guys, it felt that we earned the win tonight. I was a bit disappointed that we lost our way in the second half. We’re not saying we’re there yet. We’re not content. We’ve got a long way to go. But, it’s good for the fans after a day like today to see a good little turn out in face of all that terrible weather. They’ve been biting the lip harder and harder. That’s the way it felt. And sometimes you’ve got to bite through your lip, and that’s the way it’s going to be. I thought tonight was absolutely deserved.”


Ali Curtis
How did it feel out there tonight?
“It felt great. I’ve been wanting to start all season. Every player wants to get out there and just play. It worked out well for the team and it worked out well for me individually. I was just happy to be out there on the field and it and I worked hard. I’m happy we got the win.”


Coach Hudson said that this was the best game that you’ve ever played.
“I don’t know if it was the best games I’ve ever played, but it’s one of the best games that I’ve played as a professional. It’s something I can build on and get better as a player. When you don’t get too many minutes as a player it wears on you. So I knew that this was a great opportunity for me to go out there and show everyone what I’m made of. And it was a great opportunity as a team to show what we’re made of and make some strides in our division and get some points. I was just grateful to play well and to get the win.”


What were you able to bring ?
“I think the coaching staff . . . I think one of the things they really like is that I like to go forward and take players on. I take a lot of risks and take a lot of chances, and just create as many scoring opportunities as possible. All of our forwards are dangerous and very talented. You look at the different teams and we’ll look at different lineups to see what is the best for us. This worked best for us this game. Maybe next game it will be a different scenario. We have faith in the coaches and they have faith in us. We just go out there and try to do our jobs every night.”

Practice Notes & Quotes 02-10-03

G- Bohonick, Warren
D – Reyes, Prideaux, Petke, Swann, Ivanov, Stokes
M – Carroll, Nelsen, Woodworth, Etcheverry, Namoff, Kovolenko
F – Curtis, Eskandarian, Quaranta, Stewert, Jake Edwards

Notes
Transitioning from the 4 inches of snow on RFK’s field to the sunny climes of Florida should be a welcomed relief for DCUnited. The team spent the entire practice doing calisthenics and strength training due to the snow.

The team will practice in Florida until February 21st. Several scrimmages are planned for during that phase of their pre-season.

Head Coach Hudson is in Florida supporting Convey, Olsen, and Rimando on the National Team.

Unlike last year, DCUnited will not compete for the opportunity to play in Open Cup. As in every year except 2002, all MLS teams are included. Along with NY/NJ Metrostars, DCUnited will play in its first Open Cup game on July 16th. Opponent and site to be determined later.

Quotes:
Assistant Coach John Trask
– How do you think the team is fairing to this point in pre-season?
“I’m very, very, very pleased. The guys, in terms of fitness, the guys like Marco, it’s unbelievable. I think you can ask any player that was here last year, the feeling in the locker room, admittedly it’s early, and it’s pre-season, but you can get a feel for things, there’s a lot of respect. There’s a lot of positive energy with this group of players. Bringing in players like a Petke, and a Dema Kovolenko, they’ve added to the whole experience to every player in this locker room. And it’s tangible, you taste it, you can smell it, Ray (Hudson) would say. There’s a feeling in training that just didn’t have last year. I don’t know why we didn’t have it, but we have it now.”

– What’s the mission for the team in going to Florida for two weeks?
“We end up with three college games – the 16th, the 18th, and the 20th (February) – but the key thing is that the first four days we’re really going to push the guys hard. Everything will be competitive, everything will be fast moving. There are some new activities that we want to show them that we will be using during the course of the year that Ray and I have talked about during the course of the year. And really we just want to get in some good, hard, demanding work. We may do a couple of days of “two-a-days.” And then we’ll see what we’re like in a game-like situation against some decent college teams to gauge where we are. These are the first three of what I think are twelve pre-season games. So it’s like this slow building process that we believe in with the long season in front of us. That was the big goal when we decided to go down to Florida for this first ten day period.”

– As good as you feel the team is doing, do you think there are any weaknesses on the team at all?
“Yeah, it’s hard to say at this point because we don’t have any preconceived notions of how we are going to play. We’re going to take a look at a couple of different things. The compliment of players is key – the eleven that make up the best team, rather than the names that some people may think are the best group. We’ve made no decision on whether we’ll play a 4-4-2, or possibly a 3-5-2, or hell, we could do a 3-6-1, or something like that. That’s just going to take a little while to come to grips.”
“I don’t see any weaknesses. We’ve got competition in every single place on the field now. That was one of the big goals in the off-season. Yeah, we needed to bring in some big name players, but we needed to up the competition level, and you can it’s there. Is Brian Carroll ready to take Milton Reyes’ position? No, but I’ll tell you what, he’s a talented football player. Alecko is pushing hard. He’s very, very talented. ‘Stokies’ is a good solid defender. So we picked up some depth in areas that we needed to. Last year we were twelve to thirteen strong. And this year every indication is saying that we’re seventeen or eighteen strong right now. It’s a real dog fight out there.”

– One of the concerns is that by getting rid of Williams, Pope, and with McKinley retiring, the defense will not be a strong point this season. Is that a concern of yours?
“No, I don’t think so at all. Some of the moves we had to make were cap related, such as Eddie (Pope), and at the end of the day Ritchie (Williams). No, that’s not a concern.”
“I’d argue with people that if you look at the stats, we weren’t a good defensive team. Our goalkeeper ended up being the MVP. And that was by far the most goals he had scored on him. So, it tells you that he made some great saves in the process of keeping us in games last year.”
“I don’t think we were strong in a lot of different areas last year. You can paint the picture that it was just goal scoring and our defense was great, but I don’t believe that. I think the total team effort wasn’t good enough across the board. Defensively, attacking out of the back, the ability create and finishing chances in the attacking third, I look at stats every single week, and we were a 10th place team.”

– Eskandarian is pushing Quaranta for the other starting forward position. How do you keep them focused on that?
“I think that’s Ray’s strength as a coach, handling personalities. There’s a lot of personalities in this locker room. And there’s going to be some big named player on the sidelines that first game. What player that is, I don’t know. But there’s going to be some big named player that was part of the team last year, or was brought in to be a part of the team that may not be on field that first game. And that’s good! That’s what LA has and that’s why they’re the best team at this point. They have competition everywhere. People look at Sigi (Schmidt) and say, ‘How do you deal with that?’ That’s the good part of coaching – when you get to that point, when you’ve got good, deep talented players at a bunch of different spots. From a coaching standpoint that’s very good.”
“To be honest, if we had a game tomorrow, I don’t think anyone in this locker room would argue if we started Hristo Stoichkov and Eskandarian as the two front runners. And that’s no disrespect to Ernie (Stewert) because he just got off the plane, and no disrespect to ‘Tino’ because he’s playing very well. But those guys are playing extremely well.”

– Go down the forwards and give your impression on each. Stewert?
“Just a tremendous technical and tactical athlete. I just . . . Ray summed it up, he’s been to the highest level the game has to offer, and did very well at that level. He’s just tremendously talented whether is passing the ball, or finishing the ball, or running off the ball, it’s all aspects. He’s a player. He’s very special.”

– Quaranta?
“Unbelievable when he’s on his game. The fans were talking with me this weekend, and people are looking for him to have that coming out year, much like Bobby Convey did last year. It seems like this injury, the hernia situation is behind him. He looks like he’s getting stronger all the time. This is a big year for him this year. There’s a lot of people talking around the world about ‘that young man.’ And it’s going to be a proving ground. Game day will tell.”

– Curtis?
“Ali is everything that he’s ever been. I’ve known Ali for 10 years and he’s a great competitor, very strong. He can change a game as soon as he enters, whether it’s in the 10th minute or the 90th minute. He’s a powerful, hungry type of player. We’re still looking for him to develop. He’s still a young player. Tactically at times he doesn’t seem to be in tune with the other guys.”

– Eskandarian?
“Special.”

– Stoichkov?
“His job as an assistant coach is to give the insight and the little things that make forwards special – to give that to Ali Curtis, Santino Quaranta, and Alecko Eskandarian – little bits of information that need to be passed on to those guys. And he’s doing it every single day in practice, every single second in practice, whether it’s by his own play, or by pulling these guys over during a water break. He is such a special person, and to have a chance to have him work with these guys . . .”
“Is he a strong personality? You better believe it. Is he pushing for his place in this team? You better believe he is. We don’t see any diminishing skills with that guy. It’s all there, and it’s all on the table every session.”
“Can we ask him to play 30 games at 90 minutes? No, I don’t think we want to. I don’t think that’s in his best interest, or in our best interest. But if the last week and a half has been any indicator, we have no problem going into any game with that man as one of our front-runners. He is just a different class. He scored over 350 goals in his professional career for the likes of Barcelona and Bulgaria – these aren’t MLS goals, this is the big time. I think his strike rate is about 32 to 34 percent over the history he’s played. That’s big numbers.”

Ali Curtis
– Did you have a good off-season?
“Yeah, I thought so. I came in pretty fit, ready to go. Mentally I was just trying to prepare myself with all the changes going on. With all the talk going on about DC United I just wanted to come in mentally and physically fit, and be positive about the season to come.”

– Hudson has said that forward positions are wide open for anyone that proves themselves. With Stewert, Stoichkov and Eskandarian coming in, and with Quaranta still here there is a great deal of competition. Do you feel any extra pressure?
“No, I don’t let anything put pressure on me. I put the pressure on myself. I just go out everyday in practice and do my job. I work hard to the best of my abilities to put the ball in the back of the net. That’s the only thing I have to worry about. When Ray puts the team on the field I need to be compliant with what he says. He’s the coach and he’s going to field the best team. Hopefully I’ll fit into those plans. If not, hopefully it will be the best for DC United.”
“I’m going to do exactly what I did last season. When I get my opportunities to play I’m going to make the most of it and take it from there.”

– What’s it like to have the presence of world-class players like Stoichkov, Stewert, and Etcheverry on this team?
“I think they have great character. You respect them because of their talent, but in terms of their personalities, and how they conduct themselves in the locker room, and how they go about their work, it’s exceptional. That’s the reason why they’re world-class players and they have the reputations they have. Hopefully all the players on this team can learn from them how they carry themselves and things like that. I think we’ll be very successful if we can.”

– What is your goal for this year?
“First and foremost we have to meet the team goals. The team goals are to be in the playoffs, and be successful in the playoffs, and to hopefully win a championship. Hopefully I can play a major roll in helping the team do that. Personally, I just want to be on the field as much as possible and score a lot of goals. I scored an average amount last year, and I want to improve on that.”

– Have you talked with Coach Hudson what your role will be this year?
“Ray and I spoke briefly. Of course he’d like to use me at the forward position. Now days, you don’t know if that will change. He thinks I had a very productive season last year. He can’t say exactly what will happen because of injuries, and how the pre-season is going to hold up with the team chemistry and all that. I think Ray and the coaching staff would like me to do what I did last season, and that is work hard, be a team player, and be as productive as I can, and be as positive as I can be.”
“I think I learned a lot last season. I’m a better player for that, and hopefully I’ll be more productive for DC United.”

Alecko Eskandarian
– What does it feel like coming into a team like DCUnited with its history of championships?
“It’s pretty awesome. Just look around this locker room with all the great players. There’s a lot of history with this club, so I’m just excited to be a part of this team.”
“I think I’ll be able to bring a little bit of my own style. These guys have raised the bar a little bit, so I’m going to learn from them as much as I can and incorporate that into my own game. Hopefully that will bring out the best product.”

– What is your style?
“I love to attack. I love going at goal, and scoring goals. I’m pretty attack minded and I love to take risks. That’s my game. At the pro game level, sometimes I feel a little safer keeping possession and things like that. I think I’m going to add a little emotion, a little flair, and see what I can do to help this team.”

– What about weaknesses?
“I’ve got to learn to hold the ball better and read defenses better. Knowing when to pick and choose my spots to try different things. That’s why we have all these veterans here, and hopefully I’ll watch and learn some things.”

– Has Stoichkov pulled you aside as a mentor yet and showed you anything specifically?
“Yeah, I’ve been fortunate enough to be paired with him for the last 3 or 4 sessions running up top. From the first day, whatever he tells me . . . he’ll yell something, and I’ll turn around and do it. He’s pulled me aside a couple of times and explained things to me. I’ve noticed my game improving a little bit because of little things he’s showed me. Like you said, World Football Player of the Year, you can’t get any better than that. Whenever he talks, I listen.”

– The coaching staff uses the word ‘special’ when talking about you. Has that put any more pressure on you?
“No, not at all. Every time I step on the field I have fun. I work my butt off, and do the best I can. That’s all I can do. Hopefully that’s good enough. I think it’s working out OK. I’m just excited to step on the field and show what I can do.”

– The coaches said that all the positions are open for competition. Are you pushing yourself to get one of the starting forward positions?
“That’s a positive for me because that just shows me that if I just keep working hard, showing what I can do, and if I’m productive I have a good chance to start. I want to start. I want to play as much as I can. That’s in Ray and the coaching staff’s hands. But I know that they’re a great coaching staff and they’ll give me an opportunity if I’m playing well.”

– What do you think about Hudson so far?
“I think he’s awesome! First off, he’s the funniest coach I’ve ever had in my life. Everything he says is great. The thing you’ll notice is that he’s a motivator. Anytime you do something good he’ll be the first one to pat you on the back. If you’re struggling a little bit he’ll tell you you’re struggling, and motivate you to do better. That’s all you can ask for in a coach is to get the best out of a player, and I think that’s what he does.”

Santino Quaranta
– Did you have a good off-season?
“Yeah, it was good. A little busy with the U-20’s, but I’m ready to start back up. It went by fast. But I’m here again, ready to work hard again.”

– There have been a lot of changes since last year. What do you think of the changes?
“It’s a quiet locker room. I guess because people are new it’s not as loud as it was. It’s really . . . there’s a lot of people working hard that way and it’s good. Still, I miss some of those veterans a lot. I miss Jaime (Moreno) a lot. It’s just going to take awhile for everyone to get used to each other. It’s a good group of guys.”

– What do you think about bringing in Stoichkov, Stewert, and some of the other players?
“It’s good. These guys are great veterans . . . great players for the game. I think they’re really going to help the team, especially Stoichkov and Ernie. With all the young forwards, I think we can really learn off of those guys. I think it will be good.”

– Hudson has said that the competition for all starting positions is wide open. Do you feel any pressure about earning one of the starting positions?
“No, I don’t feel any extra pressure. I’m just out there having fun. These are my teammates. Of course you’re competing for a job, but there’s no extra pressure. It makes you play better actually. You’ve got more of a challenge around you.”

Ernie Stewert
– There are a lot of expectations from the fans with your addition to the squad. In your own mind, what are you looking to add to the team?
“I don’t know right now. I’m just over here enjoying being back in the United States. Of course, when you come over here people do have expectations, and I just want to bring a little bit of leadership on the field. That’s what they want me to exhibit. Talking left and right to some of the young players, and go from there.”

– How are you approaching the fact that you’re now a mentor, leader, and a veteran with some of these young players?
“I don’t think it has too much to do with age. It’s just what you’re used to. In Holland I was the same way. I like talking on the field, talking to other players trying to help them. That’s something that you get better when you age a little bit. That’s always been with me in that regard.”

– Have you talked with Ray about your role tactically?
“Not specifically. Of course, we spoke about what he wanted me to do. I would be in a forward role, or maybe a little behind the forwards. But nothing is set in stone, and these two months are going to pretty much say where I’m going to play.”

– How do you approach the fact that with Etcheverry, Stoichkov, and some of the other players, there are a lot of strong personalities on this team?
“There are good personalities on the team. There’s a good chemistry over here. I don’t think Stoichkov thinks he’s up there, or that Marco thinks that he’s up there. We’re just one big team and we want to win games. And that’s the most important thing. In the end, it’s great to be with players like that. Marco has been here since the beginning and won three championships. It’s good to have someone like that on the team. Stoichkov used to be one of my heroes when I started playing, when he was with Barcelona. To have those people on your team is just fantastic.”

– Did you know Ray Hudson before you came here?
“I knew about him from talking to other players in MLS. They told me what a great guy he was and a good coach. That’s pretty much all I knew about him.”

– What are your impressions about him so far?
“Unfortunately we haven’t been able to practice that much because of the weather. I’ve talked to him a couple of times on the phone and at a dinner we were at. He’s great fun, and a great person to play under.”

Practice Notes & Quotes 02-10-03

At the forward position the competition is tight. Quaranta, Curtis, Eskandarian, and Stewert talk about the pressure and of performing.


G- Bohonick, Warren
D  Reyes, Prideaux, Petke, Swann, Ivanov, Stokes
M  Carroll, Nelsen, Woodworth, Etcheverry, Namoff, Kovolenko
F  Curtis, Eskandarian, Quaranta, Stewert, Jake Edwards



NOTES…
Transitioning from the 4 inches of snow on RFKs field to the sunny climes of Florida should be a welcomed relief for DCUnited. The team spent the entire practice doing calisthenics and strength training due to the snow.

The team will practice in Florida until February 21st. Several scrimmages are planned for during that phase of their pre-season.

Head Coach Hudson is in Florida supporting Convey, Olsen, and Rimando on the National Team.

Unlike last year, DCUnited will not compete for the opportunity to play in Open Cup. As in every year except 2002, all MLS teams are included. Along with NY/NJ Metrostars, DCUnited will play in its first Open Cup game on July 16th. Opponent and site to be determined later.


QUOTES…

Assistant Coach John Trask

– How do you think the team is fairing to this point in pre-season?
Im very, very, very pleased. The guys, in terms of fitness, the guys like Marco, its unbelievable. I think you can ask any player that was here last year, the feeling in the locker room, admittedly its early, and its pre-season, but you can get a feel for things, theres a lot of respect. Theres a lot of positive energy with this group of players. Bringing in players like a Petke, and a Dema Kovolenko, theyve added to the whole experience to every player in this locker room. And its tangible, you taste it, you can smell it, Ray (Hudson) would say. Theres a feeling in training that just didnt have last year. I dont know why we didnt have it, but we have it now.

– Whats the mission for the team in going to Florida for two weeks?
We end up with three college games  the 16th, the 18th, and the 20th (February)  but the key thing is that the first four days were really going to push the guys hard. Everything will be competitive, everything will be fast moving. There are some new activities that we want to show them that we will be using during the course of the year that Ray and I have talked about during the course of the year. And really we just want to get in some good, hard, demanding work. We may do a couple of days of two-a-days. And then well see what were like in a game-like situation against some decent college teams to gauge where we are. These are the first three of what I think are twelve pre-season games. So its like this slow building process that we believe in with the long season in front of us. That was the big goal when we decided to go down to Florida for this first ten day period.

– As good as you feel the team is doing, do you think there are any weaknesses on the team at all?
Yeah, its hard to say at this point because we dont have any preconceived notions of how we are going to play. Were going to take a look at a couple of different things. The compliment of players is key  the eleven that make up the best team, rather than the names that some people may think are the best group. Weve made no decision on whether well play a 4-4-2, or possibly a 3-5-2, or hell, we could do a 3-6-1, or something like that. Thats just going to take a little while to come to grips.
I dont see any weaknesses. Weve got competition in every single place on the field now. That was one of the big goals in the off-season. Yeah, we needed to bring in some big name players, but we needed to up the competition level, and you can its there. Is Brian Carroll ready to take Milton Reyes position? No, but Ill tell you what, hes a talented football player. Alecko is pushing hard. Hes very, very talented. Stokies is a good solid defender. So we picked up some depth in areas that we needed to. Last year we were twelve to thirteen strong. And this year every indication is saying that were seventeen or eighteen strong right now. Its a real dog fight out there.

– One of the concerns is that by getting rid of Williams, Pope, and with McKinley retiring, the defense will not be a strong point this season. Is that a concern of yours?
No, I dont think so at all. Some of the moves we had to make were cap related, such as Eddie (Pope), and at the end of the day Ritchie (Williams). No, thats not a concern.
Id argue with people that if you look at the stats, we werent a good defensive team. Our goalkeeper ended up being the MVP. And that was by far the most goals he had scored on him. So, it tells you that he made some great saves in the process of keeping us in games last year.
I dont think we were strong in a lot of different areas last year. You can paint the picture that it was just goal scoring and our defense was great, but I dont believe that. I think the total team effort wasnt good enough across the board. Defensively, attacking out of the back, the ability create and finishing chances in the attacking third, I look at stats every single week, and we were a 10th place team.

– Eskandarian is pushing Quaranta for the other starting forward position. How do you keep them focused on that?
I think thats Rays strength as a coach, handling personalities. Theres a lot of personalities in this locker room. And theres going to be some big named player on the sidelines that first game. What player that is, I dont know. But theres going to be some big named player that was part of the team last year, or was brought in to be a part of the team that may not be on field that first game. And thats good! Thats what LA has and thats why theyre the best team at this point. They have competition everywhere. People look at Sigi (Schmidt) and say, How do you deal with that? Thats the good part of coaching  when you get to that point, when youve got good, deep talented players at a bunch of different spots. From a coaching standpoint thats very good.
To be honest, if we had a game tomorrow, I dont think anyone in this locker room would argue if we started Hristo Stoichkov and Eskandarian as the two front runners. And thats no disrespect to Ernie (Stewert) because he just got off the plane, and no disrespect to Tino because hes playing very well. But those guys are playing extremely well.

– Go down the forwards and give your impression on each. Stewert?
Just a tremendous technical and tactical athlete. I just . . . Ray summed it up, hes been to the highest level the game has to offer, and did very well at that level. Hes just tremendously talented whether is passing the ball, or finishing the ball, or running off the ball, its all aspects. Hes a player. Hes very special.

– Quaranta?
Unbelievable when hes on his game. The fans were talking with me this weekend, and people are looking for him to have that coming out year, much like Bobby Convey did last year. It seems like this injury, the hernia situation is behind him. He looks like hes getting stronger all the time. This is a big year for him this year. Theres a lot of people talking around the world about that young man. And its going to be a proving ground. Game day will tell.

– Curtis?
Ali is everything that hes ever been. Ive known Ali for 10 years and hes a great competitor, very strong. He can change a game as soon as he enters, whether its in the 10th minute or the 90th minute. Hes a powerful, hungry type of player. Were still looking for him to develop. Hes still a young player. Tactically at times he doesnt seem to be in tune with the other guys.

– Eskandarian?
Special.

– Stoichkov?
His job as an assistant coach is to give the insight and the little things that make forwards special  to give that to Ali Curtis, Santino Quaranta, and Alecko Eskandarian  little bits of information that need to be passed on to those guys. And hes doing it every single day in practice, every single second in practice, whether its by his own play, or by pulling these guys over during a water break. He is such a special person, and to have a chance to have him work with these guys . . .
Is he a strong personality? You better believe it. Is he pushing for his place in this team? You better believe he is. We dont see any diminishing skills with that guy. Its all there, and its all on the table every session.
Can we ask him to play 30 games at 90 minutes? No, I dont think we want to. I dont think thats in his best interest, or in our best interest. But if the last week and a half has been any indicator, we have no problem going into any game with that man as one of our front-runners. He is just a different class. He scored over 350 goals in his professional career for the likes of Barcelona and Bulgaria  these arent MLS goals, this is the big time. I think his strike rate is about 32 to 34 percent over the history hes played. Thats big numbers.

Ali Curtis
– Did you have a good off-season?
Yeah, I thought so. I came in pretty fit, ready to go. Mentally I was just trying to prepare myself with all the changes going on. With all the talk going on about DC United I just wanted to come in mentally and physically fit, and be positive about the season to come.

– Hudson has said that forward positions are wide open for anyone that proves themselves. With Stewert, Stoichkov and Eskandarian coming in, and with Quaranta still here there is a great deal of competition. Do you feel any extra pressure?
No, I dont let anything put pressure on me. I put the pressure on myself. I just go out everyday in practice and do my job. I work hard to the best of my abilities to put the ball in the back of the net. Thats the only thing I have to worry about. When Ray puts the team on the field I need to be compliant with what he says. Hes the coach and hes going to field the best team. Hopefully Ill fit into those plans. If not, hopefully it will be the best for DC United.
Im going to do exactly what I did last season. When I get my opportunities to play Im going to make the most of it and take it from there.

– Whats it like to have the presence of world-class players like Stoichkov, Stewert, and Etcheverry on this team?
I think they have great character. You respect them because of their talent, but in terms of their personalities, and how they conduct themselves in the locker room, and how they go about their work, its exceptional. Thats the reason why theyre world-class players and they have the reputations they have. Hopefully all the players on this team can learn from them how they carry themselves and things like that. I think well be very successful if we can.

– What is your goal for this year?
First and foremost we have to meet the team goals. The team goals are to be in the playoffs, and be successful in the playoffs, and to hopefully win a championship. Hopefully I can play a major roll in helping the team do that. Personally, I just want to be on the field as much as possible and score a lot of goals. I scored an average amount last year, and I want to improve on that.

– Have you talked with Coach Hudson what your role will be this year?
Ray and I spoke briefly. Of course hed like to use me at the forward position. Now days, you dont know if that will change. He thinks I had a very productive season last year. He cant say exactly what will happen because of injuries, and how the pre-season is going to hold up with the team chemistry and all that. I think Ray and the coaching staff would like me to do what I did last season, and that is work hard, be a team player, and be as productive as I can, and be as positive as I can be.
I think I learned a lot last season. Im a better player for that, and hopefully Ill be more productive for DC United.


Alecko Eskandarian

What does it feel like coming into a team like DCUnited with its history of championships?
Its pretty awesome. Just look around this locker room with all the great players. Theres a lot of history with this club, so Im just excited to be a part of this team.
I think Ill be able to bring a little bit of my own style. These guys have raised the bar a little bit, so Im going to learn from them as much as I can and incorporate that into my own game. Hopefully that will bring out the best product.

What is your style?
I love to attack. I love going at goal, and scoring goals. Im pretty attack minded and I love to take risks. Thats my game. At the pro game level, sometimes I feel a little safer keeping possession and things like that. I think Im going to add a little emotion, a little flair, and see what I can do to help this team.

What about weaknesses?
Ive got to learn to hold the ball better and read defenses better. Knowing when to pick and choose my spots to try different things. Thats why we have all these veterans here, and hopefully Ill watch and learn some things.

Has Stoichkov pulled you aside as a mentor yet and showed you anything specifically?
Yeah, Ive been fortunate enough to be paired with him for the last 3 or 4 sessions running up top. From the first day, whatever he tells me . . . hell yell something, and Ill turn around and do it. Hes pulled me aside a couple of times and explained things to me. Ive noticed my game improving a little bit because of little things hes showed me. Like you said, World Football Player of the Year, you cant get any better than that. Whenever he talks, I listen.

The coaching staff uses the word special when talking about you. Has that put any more pressure on you?
No, not at all. Every time I step on the field I have fun. I work my butt off, and do the best I can. Thats all I can do. Hopefully thats good enough. I think its working out OK. Im just excited to step on the field and show what I can do.

The coaches said that all the positions are open for competition. Are you pushing yourself to get one of the starting forward positions?
Thats a positive for me because that just shows me that if I just keep working hard, showing what I can do, and if Im productive I have a good chance to start. I want to start. I want to play as much as I can. Thats in Ray and the coaching staffs hands. But I know that theyre a great coaching staff and theyll give me an opportunity if Im playing well.

What do you think about Hudson so far?
I think hes awesome! First off, hes the funniest coach Ive ever had in my life. Everything he says is great. The thing youll notice is that hes a motivator. Anytime you do something good hell be the first one to pat you on the back. If youre struggling a little bit hell tell you youre struggling, and motivate you to do better. Thats all you can ask for in a coach is to get the best out of a player, and I think thats what he does.


Santino Quaranta

Did you have a good off-season?
Yeah, it was good. A little busy with the U-20s, but Im ready to start back up. It went by fast. But Im here again, ready to work hard again.

There have been a lot of changes since last year. What do you think of the changes?
Its a quiet locker room. I guess because people are new its not as loud as it was. Its really . . . theres a lot of people working hard that way and its good. Still, I miss some of those veterans a lot. I miss Jaime (Moreno) a lot. Its just going to take awhile for everyone to get used to each other. Its a good group of guys.

What do you think about bringing in Stoichkov, Stewert, and some of the other players?
Its good. These guys are great veterans . . . great players for the game. I think theyre really going to help the team, especially Stoichkov and Ernie. With all the young forwards, I think we can really learn off of those guys. I think it will be good.

Hudson has said that the competition for all starting positions is wide open. Do you feel any pressure about earning one of the starting positions?
No, I dont feel any extra pressure. Im just out there having fun. These are my teammates. Of course youre competing for a job, but theres no extra pressure. It makes you play better actually. Youve got more of a challenge around you.

Ernie Stewert
There are a lot of expectations from the fans with your addition to the squad. In your own mind, what are you looking to add to the team?
I dont know right now. Im just over here enjoying being back in the United States. Of course, when you come over here people do have expectations, and I just want to bring a little bit of leadership on the field. Thats what they want me to exhibit. Talking left and right to some of the young players, and go from there.

How are you approaching the fact that youre now a mentor, leader, and a veteran with some of these young players?
I dont think it has too much to do with age. Its just what youre used to. In Holland I was the same way. I like talking on the field, talking to other players trying to help them. Thats something that you get better when you age a little bit. Thats always been with me in that regard.

Have you talked with Ray about your role tactically?
Not specifically. Of course, we spoke about what he wanted me to do. I would be in a forward role, or maybe a little behind the forwards. But nothing is set in stone, and these two months are going to pretty much say where Im going to play.

How do you approach the fact that with Etcheverry, Stoichkov, and some of the other players, there are a lot of strong personalities on this team?
There are good personalities on the team. Theres a good chemistry over here. I dont think Stoichkov thinks hes up there, or that Marco thinks that hes up there. Were just one big team and we want to win games. And thats the most important thing. In the end, its great to be with players like that. Marco has been here since the beginning and won three championships. Its good to have someone like that on the team. Stoichkov used to be one of my heroes when I started playing, when he was with Barcelona. To have those people on your team is just fantastic.

Did you know Ray Hudson before you came here?
I knew about him from talking to other players in MLS. They told me what a great guy he was and a good coach. Thats pretty much all I knew about him.

What are your impressions about him so far?
Unfortunately we havent been able to practice that much because of the weather. Ive talked to him a couple of times on the phone and at a dinner we were at. Hes great fun, and a great person to play under.

Practice Note and Quotes 02-03-03

Attendance:
G – Geddes (West VA – Wesleyan), Bohonick
D – Stokes, Reyes, Prideaux, Petke, Swann, Ivanov, Sayler
M – Kovolenko, Amani-Dove, Digiamarino, Etcheverry, Nelsen, Namoff, Quintinilla, Sayler, Woodworth, Carroll
F – Quaranta, Stoichkov, Curtis, Eskandarian, Jake Edwards (England)

Notes:
– Ali Curtis took a kick to the face and went to the hospital for stitches. He should be back in practice immediately.

– David Hayes took a nasty slash along his shins in Monday’s practice. Bad enough that he didn’t return for Tuesday’s.

– There will be a special draft (see below). It will include out of contract players, also known as free agents. The draft will be exactly the same as the regular off-season draft, reverse order of finish in 2003. However, it will not include Digiamarino who was “sold” from the league. DCUnited contends his contract was allowed to expire and he left on a free transfer, and therefore should be included in the regular special draft, not a weighted draft. It is obviously important because Digiamarino’s play has been stellar in the past couple of days of practice. Adding Digiamarino would obviously allow some flexibility to where Convey could play.

Practice:
After the normal warms ups, the team jumped into a game of ’21 touch keep-away.’ Played on about ½ a field, the team is split into two sides. The object is for each side to string together 21 consecutive passes to score a point.

The second phase was a scrimmage using four of the small goals across the width of the field. The teams broke down:
Blue Team
—————————-Geddes
Petke——————–Ivanov————Prideaux
Reyes—-Kovolenko—Etcheverry—Nelsen—Digiamarino
————Stoichkov———Eskandarian

Yellow Team
——————–Edwards——-Quaranta
Woodworth—-Quintinilla—-Namoff—–Carroll—Amani-Dove
Swann———————Stokes————–Sayler
—————————Bohonick

A couple of very nice things occurred during the run of play. Eskandarian used his quickness to get some space, turned and fired a goal from a tight angle. Reyes, with Swann clinging tightly, managed to round the corner for a second goal. During a nice long distance switch from Stoichkov to Digiamarino, Etcheverry slid into the open lane to receive the second pass, fired a grass-cutter from distance. Moments later, Etcheverry again was able to step around Carroll to score. Blue Team’s defense moved the ball quickly throughout their defensive third to get itself out of trouble.

The final phase of practice was a full field intra-squad scrimmage. Stokes was having a bad day with his passing. Not realizing the speed of his opponents, he would lay off a soft pass, which was as often as not cut-off by the time it reached its intended target. Reyes played up on the right midfield slot. It is obvious he is not familiar with the position. Reminiscent of Lisi or Albright, he would be caught in the middle of the field, not knowing to go forward or fall back on defense. Also, after receiving a long pass at his feet, Quaranta was able to fight off a tackle. Unfortunately, the ensuing shot went wide left. Without a doubt, Eskandarian has the upper hand over Quaranta to this point on the depth chart. Swann showed a good presence of mind, stopping an open net threat when Bohonick was beaten after going out to challenge for a ball. However, his natural physical gifts as often as not made up for this indecision. By end of practice, most players were noticeably worn out.

Quotes:
Dave Kasper
– With all the moves you made up to now, how do you feel about the team?
“I think we’re happy right now. Obviously it was a long, hard off-season, and we had some very big decisions to make. With the way things are going now, with the way things are looking with the amount of talent we have, the depth that we have, I’m pretty excited.”

– Was the Pope-Williams-Moreno for Petke a trade that you initiated, or did they come to you?
“At the end of the season we talked with all the teams to find out where they were at with their team. It’s an exercise that all teams go through. You get on the phone and have several conversations. It’s just something that built over an eight-week period. As you go along, you see what’s available, and you figure out where you’re at with your cap, certain teams seem to be able to provide what makes sense to you. And you work it. We were able to do that.”
“We got David Stokes out of the deal. We were able to pick up Ernie Stewert as Jaime’s (Moreno) replacement, and we got Mike Petke as Eddie’s (Pope) replacement, and enough money left over to go out and get the Bulgarian defender Ivanov.”

– Speaking of money, does the team have any salary cap left?
“It’s very tight right now . . . very tight. We’re for the most part; I would say 90% done. We’re keeping our eyes open to what else is available. But, there are no major moves left.”

– There’s talk about another special draft for out of contract players. Is that true, and how would it work?
“What it would be is another mechanism for teams to get players. It’s for players who are free agents, players that have played in the league at one point in time and want to come back, and players that you would not have to use a discovery to get. It will be at the end of the month.”

– Is this just for this season, or something that is being instituted for the future years?
“I’m sure it’s going to be a wait and see type of thing. If there are a good number of players available, which we don’t know who will be available in that draft, then I think it will be something they consider for the future.”

– What are the mechanics of the draft?
“It is going to be based on the 2003 Super-Draft natural order.”

– You also have Discovery Options, two per team, with money included. Have those mechanics changed?
“That’s the same. But, with a Discovery, any money used in an acquisition counts against your cap. So, it’s not like you have money just waiting and sitting. It’s money you have to consider.”

– So, you don’t have any flexibility through that option because of the salary cap?
“We’re looking for free-agents. If we are to discover a player, it would have to be a free-agent situation.”

– Coach Hudson has mentioned that he is possibly interested in making another move. Is that something you are actively pursuing?
“There are things out there right now that are possibilities – nothing definite, nothing immanent. But, there are things that are on our board and we are considering.”

– With that in mind, are there any needs for this team at the moment? Is there a weakness on this team?
“I think what we’re looking to do right now is get players who provide a good amount of cover with all the National Team call-ups at all three levels – Bobby and Santino will be gone for the U-20’s. Right now Nick (Rimando), Ben (Olsen), and Bobby are with the (Full) National Team, and there’s two major competitions this summer. And then you have the Olympic Team, which we now have four players (Stokes, Warren, Carroll Eskandarian), plus potentially Bobby and Santino, so you’re looking at six players. So that’s what we’re looking at right now, what players are out there that can provide us cover for certain positions while those players get called up.”

– What are the deadlines you are facing?
“August 1st is the trading deadline. The first cut will be down to 20 roster players (end of this week), and the final cut will be in mid-March.”


Ray Hudson
– It seems that you’ve filled in all the weaknesses with the exception of defensive midfielder. Is that what you’re looking for in any future moves?
“Yeah, I think because there’s not that pure, natural player there. Ryan (Nelsen) plays there for his National Team. He’s very comfortable there. I like him a lot there. He gives us great flexibility. He wins a lot in the air. But he’s not really the David Batty type you need in there. But, he’s the best one we’ve got – the closest one we’ve got. He’s predominantly a defender. He’s good enough with his feet, and he plays nice balls. I’m looking for Ryan to be that player just now. But that is something I do think we need to look for perhaps.”

– Last year your philosophy was to “Organize defensively, and create offensively.” After bringing in all these new faces, has that philosophy been modified?
“Yeah, I think I want to be more . . . especially with the players up front, we can be more dynamic with our football offensively. With Benny, Bobby, and Dema all buzzing around Marco.”
“And with this . . . whoever gets in up front is going to create all sorts of problems – Eskandarian looks sharper than a razor! Santino looks as if he’s coming to play big time. But, Stoichkov! Where the hell . . . .? He’s striking balls, and passing balls, and making those runs. He’s going to be a tremendous luxury to have.”
“Milton needs to sharpen his game. Milton on the ball needs to . . . . He’s such an athlete, and he’s such a greyhound, but we need to work on his footballing. Because amongst these guys you can see he’s down a notch.”

– But, you have him put out on the right wing out of his natural position. Is that an experiment or something you’re trying to build for the season?
“Sure . . . We just wanted to take a look at the guys in the back (Petke-Ivanov-Prideaux). Certainly Milton is our right back, there’s no question of that. That’s where he’s penciled in at. But we’ve got to have a look at these players who have that variety in their game. That’s all it is.”
“We’re two months away, and I want to take a look at a lot of things. I want to take a look at Bobby Convey as a central player. All of Bobby’s best attributes figure him to be a wide player because of his energy and his relentless drive. I think that’s where Bruce (Arena) is looking at him. But, it’s something I want to take a look at with Bobby as well, and see if he can be that player in front of Ryan. And if Dema can be a wide player – I know he doesn’t like it particularly out there. But, we can look at all these things over the next couple of months. I think we’re going to be flexible that way.”

– Coach Trask said earlier that he’s getting calls from all over the league that teams are already afraid of DCUnited because of what you’ve assembled. Is that the impression you have too?
“Aye . . . Everywhere there’s talk that way. We’re hearing that from all over. It’s not just that as if we’re looking to be putting together a very good, dynamic, experienced, ultra-competitive team, with a lot of winners, and a lot of people who are hungry, a lot of natural appetite to do well, and they show that during the working week. All those players have that sort of character and personality about them of real men – tough guys. They really are. That part of it is absolutely wonderful. It’s as we said at the start, it’s going to be a challenge to get into this starting eleven. And it’s going to be as much of a challenge to keep the other players out.”

– One difference at practices seems to be that this is a much more serious and dedicated group. Is that true? And is it intentional?
“Yeah, it is. It’s a great question, and a good observation as well because pre-season is a lot of that. But, I think all of that natural tendency will come out, and it will only get better. I mean, look at the guys that we are going to get in. It’s going to go up. It’s not going to stay the same or go down. I don’t think the pre-season in it. Everybody has that one-up-manship and stuff.”
“I’m real please with the way its looking right now, but it means nothing right now. We’ve got to see and figure out what the best compliment is. And it may be that one or two . . . and I mean this analytically, we may have to leave a very good, gifted player out because its not the right mix. That’s the other part of this. It’s not just the best 11 players. You cannot look at a team like that. It’s the 11 that compliment each other. And if it means that a particularly good and gifted player having to be out of the team, that’s what I have to do. That’s what I have to take on, and you live and die by that decision. They may be unpopular decisions, but that’s what we’re building into this team. And if it works, that’s great. And if it doesn’t work, then you try another mix. So over these next two months we’re going to be looking and weighing it all up.”

– Although it’s early, do you see any weaknesses on this team, or areas of concern?
“I just think the understanding amongst each other with all these new pieces. And that’s just going to come with time. As for an inherent weakness with the team, we’ve got strength, and experience, and tactical speed in the back, we’ve got engines in the middle, we’ve got competent and demanding footballers all over the middle of the field, we’ve got our brilliant players, we’ve got some real dagger greyhounds up front that are just chomping at the bit. And don’t mean these guys, I mean Ernie as well. It’s looking very satisfying right now. But is it going to jell? Is it going to come together, that understanding. The early impressions is that I couldn’t be more pleased, there’s no disappointments or concerns at this point. I’m extremely happy right now.”

Practice Note and Quotes 02-03-03

DCUnited continues its introduction to 2003 with the players going all out, vying for those 18 positions on the team. The first cut down date is Friday and all the players seem to have impressed Hudson & Co. Technical Director tells how the team is limited on its future choices.


Attendance:
G  Geddes (West VA  Wesleyan), Bohonick
D  Stokes, Reyes, Prideaux, Petke, Swann, Ivanov, Sayler
M  Kovolenko, Amani-Dove, Digiamarino, Etcheverry, Nelsen, Namoff, Quintinilla, Sayler, Woodworth, Carroll
F  Quaranta, Stoichkov, Curtis, Eskandarian, Jake Edwards (England)

Notes:
– Ali Curtis took a kick to the face and went to the hospital for stitches. He should be back in practice immediately.

– David Hayes took a nasty slash along his shins in Mondays practice. Bad enough that he didnt return for Tuesdays.

– There will be a special draft (see below). It will include out of contract players, also known as free agents. The draft will be exactly the same as the regular off-season draft, reverse order of finish in 2003. However, it will not include Digiamarino who was sold from the league. DCUnited contends his contract was allowed to expire and he left on a free transfer, and therefore should be included in the regular special draft, not a weighted draft. It is obviously important because Digiamarinos play has been stellar in the past couple of days of practice. Adding Digiamarino would obviously allow some flexibility to where Convey could play.

Practice:
After the normal warms ups, the team jumped into a game of 21 touch keep-away. Played on about ½ a field, the team is split into two sides. The object is for each side to string together 21 consecutive passes to score a point.

The second phase was a scrimmage using four of the small goals across the width of the field. The teams broke down:
Blue Team
—————————-Geddes
Petke——————–Ivanov————Prideaux
Reyes—-KovolenkoEtcheverryNelsen—Digiamarino
————Stoichkov———Eskandarian

Yellow Team
——————–Edwards——-Quaranta
Woodworth—-Quintinilla—-Namoff—–Carroll—Amani-Dove
Swann———————Stokes————–Sayler
—————————Bohonick

A couple of very nice things occurred during the run of play. Eskandarian used his quickness to get some space, turned and fired a goal from a tight angle. Reyes, with Swann clinging tightly, managed to round the corner for a second goal. During a nice long distance switch from Stoichkov to Digiamarino, Etcheverry slid into the open lane to receive the second pass, fired a grass-cutter from distance. Moments later, Etcheverry again was able to step around Carroll to score. Blue Teams defense moved the ball quickly throughout their defensive third to get itself out of trouble.

The final phase of practice was a full field intra-squad scrimmage. Stokes was having a bad day with his passing. Not realizing the speed of his opponents, he would lay off a soft pass, which was as often as not cut-off by the time it reached its intended target. Reyes played up on the right midfield slot. It is obvious he is not familiar with the position. Reminiscent of Lisi or Albright, he would be caught in the middle of the field, not knowing to go forward or fall back on defense. Also, after receiving a long pass at his feet, Quaranta was able to fight off a tackle. Unfortunately, the ensuing shot went wide left. Without a doubt, Eskandarian has the upper hand over Quaranta to this point on the depth chart. Swann showed a good presence of mind, stopping an open net threat when Bohonick was beaten after going out to challenge for a ball. However, his natural physical gifts as often as not made up for this indecision. By end of practice, most players were noticeably worn out.

Quotes:
Dave Kasper
– With all the moves you made up to now, how do you feel about the team?
I think were happy right now. Obviously it was a long, hard off-season, and we had some very big decisions to make. With the way things are going now, with the way things are looking with the amount of talent we have, the depth that we have, Im pretty excited.

– Was the Pope-Williams-Moreno for Petke a trade that you initiated, or did they come to you?
At the end of the season we talked with all the teams to find out where they were at with their team. Its an exercise that all teams go through. You get on the phone and have several conversations. Its just something that built over an eight-week period. As you go along, you see whats available, and you figure out where youre at with your cap, certain teams seem to be able to provide what makes sense to you. And you work it. We were able to do that.
We got David Stokes out of the deal. We were able to pick up Ernie Stewert as Jaimes (Moreno) replacement, and we got Mike Petke as Eddies (Pope) replacement, and enough money left over to go out and get the Bulgarian defender Ivanov.

– Speaking of money, does the team have any salary cap left?
Its very tight right now . . . very tight. Were for the most part; I would say 90% done. Were keeping our eyes open to what else is available. But, there are no major moves left.

– Theres talk about another special draft for out of contract players. Is that true, and how would it work?
What it would be is another mechanism for teams to get players. Its for players who are free agents, players that have played in the league at one point in time and want to come back, and players that you would not have to use a discovery to get. It will be at the end of the month.

– Is this just for this season, or something that is being instituted for the future years?
Im sure its going to be a wait and see type of thing. If there are a good number of players available, which we dont know who will be available in that draft, then I think it will be something they consider for the future.

– What are the mechanics of the draft?
It is going to be based on the 2003 Super-Draft natural order.

– You also have Discovery Options, two per team, with money included. Have those mechanics changed?
Thats the same. But, with a Discovery, any money used in an acquisition counts against your cap. So, its not like you have money just waiting and sitting. Its money you have to consider.

– So, you dont have any flexibility through that option because of the salary cap?
Were looking for free-agents. If we are to discover a player, it would have to be a free-agent situation.

– Coach Hudson has mentioned that he is possibly interested in making another move. Is that something you are actively pursuing?
There are things out there right now that are possibilities  nothing definite, nothing immanent. But, there are things that are on our board and we are considering.

– With that in mind, are there any needs for this team at the moment? Is there a weakness on this team?
I think what were looking to do right now is get players who provide a good amount of cover with all the National Team call-ups at all three levels  Bobby and Santino will be gone for the U-20s. Right now Nick (Rimando), Ben (Olsen), and Bobby are with the (Full) National Team, and theres two major competitions this summer. And then you have the Olympic Team, which we now have four players (Stokes, Warren, Carroll Eskandarian), plus potentially Bobby and Santino, so youre looking at six players. So thats what were looking at right now, what players are out there that can provide us cover for certain positions while those players get called up.

– What are the deadlines you are facing?
August 1st is the trading deadline. The first cut will be down to 20 roster players (end of this week), and the final cut will be in mid-March.


Ray Hudson
– It seems that youve filled in all the weaknesses with the exception of defensive midfielder. Is that what youre looking for in any future moves?
Yeah, I think because theres not that pure, natural player there. Ryan (Nelsen) plays there for his National Team. Hes very comfortable there. I like him a lot there. He gives us great flexibility. He wins a lot in the air. But hes not really the David Batty type you need in there. But, hes the best one weve got  the closest one weve got. Hes predominantly a defender. Hes good enough with his feet, and he plays nice balls. Im looking for Ryan to be that player just now. But that is something I do think we need to look for perhaps.

– Last year your philosophy was to Organize defensively, and create offensively. After bringing in all these new faces, has that philosophy been modified?
Yeah, I think I want to be more . . . especially with the players up front, we can be more dynamic with our football offensively. With Benny, Bobby, and Dema all buzzing around Marco.
And with this . . . whoever gets in up front is going to create all sorts of problems  Eskandarian looks sharper than a razor! Santino looks as if hes coming to play big time. But, Stoichkov! Where the hell . . . .? Hes striking balls, and passing balls, and making those runs. Hes going to be a tremendous luxury to have.
Milton needs to sharpen his game. Milton on the ball needs to . . . . Hes such an athlete, and hes such a greyhound, but we need to work on his footballing. Because amongst these guys you can see hes down a notch.

– But, you have him put out on the right wing out of his natural position. Is that an experiment or something youre trying to build for the season?
Sure . . . We just wanted to take a look at the guys in the back (Petke-Ivanov-Prideaux). Certainly Milton is our right back, theres no question of that. Thats where hes penciled in at. But weve got to have a look at these players who have that variety in their game. Thats all it is.
Were two months away, and I want to take a look at a lot of things. I want to take a look at Bobby Convey as a central player. All of Bobbys best attributes figure him to be a wide player because of his energy and his relentless drive. I think thats where Bruce (Arena) is looking at him. But, its something I want to take a look at with Bobby as well, and see if he can be that player in front of Ryan. And if Dema can be a wide player  I know he doesnt like it particularly out there. But, we can look at all these things over the next couple of months. I think were going to be flexible that way.

– Coach Trask said earlier that hes getting calls from all over the league that teams are already afraid of DCUnited because of what youve assembled. Is that the impression you have too?
Aye . . . Everywhere theres talk that way. Were hearing that from all over. Its not just that as if were looking to be putting together a very good, dynamic, experienced, ultra-competitive team, with a lot of winners, and a lot of people who are hungry, a lot of natural appetite to do well, and they show that during the working week. All those players have that sort of character and personality about them of real men  tough guys. They really are. That part of it is absolutely wonderful. Its as we said at the start, its going to be a challenge to get into this starting eleven. And its going to be as much of a challenge to keep the other players out.

– One difference at practices seems to be that this is a much more serious and dedicated group. Is that true? And is it intentional?
Yeah, it is. Its a great question, and a good observation as well because pre-season is a lot of that. But, I think all of that natural tendency will come out, and it will only get better. I mean, look at the guys that we are going to get in. Its going to go up. Its not going to stay the same or go down. I dont think the pre-season in it. Everybody has that one-up-manship and stuff.
Im real please with the way its looking right now, but it means nothing right now. Weve got to see and figure out what the best compliment is. And it may be that one or two . . . and I mean this analytically, we may have to leave a very good, gifted player out because its not the right mix. Thats the other part of this. Its not just the best 11 players. You cannot look at a team like that. Its the 11 that compliment each other. And if it means that a particularly good and gifted player having to be out of the team, thats what I have to do. Thats what I have to take on, and you live and die by that decision. They may be unpopular decisions, but thats what were building into this team. And if it works, thats great. And if it doesnt work, then you try another mix. So over these next two months were going to be looking and weighing it all up.

– Although its early, do you see any weaknesses on this team, or areas of concern?
I just think the understanding amongst each other with all these new pieces. And thats just going to come with time. As for an inherent weakness with the team, weve got strength, and experience, and tactical speed in the back, weve got engines in the middle, weve got competent and demanding footballers all over the middle of the field, weve got our brilliant players, weve got some real dagger greyhounds up front that are just chomping at the bit. And dont mean these guys, I mean Ernie as well. Its looking very satisfying right now. But is it going to jell? Is it going to come together, that understanding. The early impressions is that I couldnt be more pleased, theres no disappointments or concerns at this point. Im extremely happy right now.