How is the pre-season going for you?
“Good. I’m thinking positive. This time I’m taking my time with a lot of things. With the couple of surgeries I had I’m taking my time coming back slowly in training trying to get into shape.”
Last year was a disappointment. On top of that there were many changes last year to the players. Now that you have had a couple of months to think about it, what are your thoughts about last season?
“Whatever went wrong was in the past, and I don’t like to talk about the past. I think we have to look forward and think about the future and about DC United right now. Whatever happened, I think we have learned from those mistakes and go on.”
What do you think of the core group of players that have been with the team now for three years – you, Olsen, Emilio, Fred, Burch, etc.?
“I think you have to have eleven guys on the field, and backup just in case somebody gets hurt like last year. I think that is what happened. Relying on just one guy that we signed or some of the young guys that got injured . . . . We really didn’t have a good bench.”
“I think when you look at a team you have to look at all twenty-four. Unfortunately, we weren’t that deep last year because of the injuries.”
“At the same time, its not just one or two guys, it’s got to be the whole group, not just players, coaches, doctors, the staff, everybody!”
“At the end of the day, as an athlete, you’re going to do your best, not just for yourself, but for the team, your family, the fans, everybody.”
In talking with Tommy Soehn, he said that he was forced to play you more than he wanted to last year. Going into this season, have you and the coaches made a plan on how much you will play?
“I want to play as long as I can and as much as I can. On the other side, last year my knee didn’t hold up that much because we played so many games last year. I think I did pretty good, especially my knee did well with that many games. The doctors didn’t think my knee would do that well that long. I wasn’t capable of playing 90 minutes, but I could play for the last 30 minutes, and I was just trying to give my best when everyone knew I had to have surgery.”
“But no, we haven’t talked about it. After last year’s experience, I cannot make plans because if the team needs me, I’m going to be there. It’s hard to make plans about it right now.”
With Ben Olsen and his injury, he said that he is willing to be a starter or a sub off the bench. You have been a starter your entire career. Are you willing to be a sub if Tommy thinks it is necessary for this team to be successful?
“I don’t think about that because like you say at the end of the day the most important thing is the team. But, at the same time, you’ve got to be honest with yourself. The coaches have to be honest too with the players. Everything has to be a balance.”
“If I see myself not helping the team, if I’m not good enough, then the coach has to bench me. That is what I’ve always said to Tommy.”
“We’re grown-ups . . . we communicate . . . . we have to say things.”
“If he thinks it’s better that I come in from the bench, maybe I won’t like it but I will do it.”
Out at practice today I saw you were very forceful and demanding with the younger players. What is the one thing that you try to explain to the younger players that they must learn to be successful?
“Sometimes these guys have been through a lot and are a little bit nervous. The thing they have to learn is to be more creative, and not to be afraid to try something. Practice is the time where you need to do those things. If you’re doing it in practices, then you’re going to do it in games too. That’s what they have to learn is that in practice is where you experiment on things. They have to loose that fear, be creative, and be themselves.”
“That’s something that I’ve been lucky enough with in my career. I’ve been creative and get to do what I can do.”
Do you want to eventually be a coach?
“I haven’t thought about it because I’m not that close to retirement. Maybe later I’ll think about it. Right now I’m just enjoying playing.”
What goals do you have for this season?
“To win the championship. That’s all there is.”
How is pre-season going for you?
“Pretty good. A little sore . . . a little tired, but pretty good.”
With all the changes on the team from last year, what are the effects on the team?
“Last year when we had such a big turnover, we had a quality side the year before (2007) – the Supporters’ Shield side – we had such a big turnover from that the players were a little bit shocked. There were some decisions by the players themselves that changed the team quite a bit. So, it was kind of tough entering last season thinking that what we did in 2007 wasn’t good enough. We were a little unfortunate to walk away from 2007 without anything other than the Supporters’ Shield.”
“So, coming into this year, with the way things went last year, it wasn’t a surprise with all the turnover. When a team doesn’t make the playoffs, that’s definitely going to happen. So far I think they’ve made some good decisions. There are still some acquisitions to be made and I hope they continue to do that.”
Most of the fans blame a weak defense for most of the problems last year. Specifically they point to the back line. Throughout last season you played pretty much all those positions. How does that make you feel?
“You never want to be a part of that. We had a tough year back all the way around. I don’t think anybody had too spectacular a season. We had a lot of turnover on the backline. Once we started to get a little bit of consistency, someone would end up getting injured or suspended, and there’s a lot to that. Even when we were at our best it wasn’t that good, I think.”
“So, this year has to be better. We don’t really have that much choice in the matter. If we continue to let in that many goals it’s going to be another tough season for us.”
“I think they’re eyeing some new players to solidify that back line.”
“Having said that, it is a team effort. There is a lot of team defending that goes on. It’s eleven players behind the ball. Last year was definitely a bad year for us last year.”
“Hopefully everyone can pick it up a little bit and change the overall attitude in defending and change the amount of times the ball goes in the back of the net.”
You were all over the field last season – outside, midfield and defense – have you talked to Tommy about picking one spot and settling into it?
“We haven’t had that conversation. I thin it’s a kind of mutual agreement that I am the utility guy. That’s my role for this team right now.”
“I’ve said this before, I really enjoy being on the field. I think I’m better at one position than others, but I’m not the best at any one position on this team. Anytime I can get on the field, I’m happy to be out there. Wherever they ask me to play that’s what I’ll do.”
Quaranta said that he believes he is one of the best eleven on this squad and should be a starter. Do you feel the same way?
“Yeah, you have to feel that way. I don’t think it is arrogance. If you don’t have confidence in yourself you probably shouldn’t be here.”
“I definitely think there is a spot on the field for me. But, I’m not sure which one it is. I’m comfortable at several positions, which is a plus for me. I do think I can be one of the eleven here.”
What are your goals for this season?
“Obviously just to make the playoffs . . . . to improve upon last year and get back on track. We need to do what DC United teams do and that’s making the playoffs. From there anything can happen in the playoffs.”
“Obviously playing in defense most of the time, I want to improve the goals-against average. That was horrific – second worst in the league – I want to be part of a defense that improves upon that and get it down to where we were a couple of years ago.”