DC United prepared for taxing schedule ahead

WASHINGTON – After a slow and steady start to the 2011 season, it’s all hands on deck for D.C. United over the next two weeks.

Starting Tuesday with a US Open Cup play-in game against New England, DC have four games in 13 days, and will look to manage minutes to keep players healthy and get the maximum results possible.

Head Coach Ben Olsen stressed that closely managing time isn’t just being done because of the busy two-week schedule.

“It’s vital not only over these next two weeks but the [whole] season,” he said. “With a Tuesday-Friday [schedule] and what I believe is a deep team, I think we can manage the minutes over the next two weeks in the right way.”

Following Tuesday night’s game at home against New England, United take the road to face new Eastern Conference foe Houston. Next week, United have a mid-week clash against Seattle on May 4 before meeting FC Dallas the following weekend.

The good news, though, is that three of the four matches are at home. But regardless, the next two weeks will require that the entire team steps up to show how deep they really are.

“Everybody has to understand they have a role in these next two weeks,” midfielder Santino Quaranta told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s going to be important that everybody is involved.”

There are players with plenty of experience ready to step in if needed. Olsen has used 22 different players through the team’s first six regular season games, and depending on how things shake out in terms of injuries and fatigue, could be forced to hand a few more players a 2011 debut.

One player, Stephen King, will be looking to make a league debut over the next few weeks. The 24-year-old central midfielder said the message was clear from the coaching staff what is expected from the entire team – not just the regulars.

“Benny made a point this morning before practice that over these next two weeks we are going to have to use everyone,” King said. “We have four games in a very short span, so with injuries and people being fatigued from matches, everyone’s going to have their chance and have their opportunity to prove that they should be out there on a more regular basis.”