Quaranta adjusting to new role with DC

WASHINGTON — On a roster sprinkled with new additions, one of D.C. United’s most familiar faces has found himself adjusting to a much different role.

Longtime veteran Santino Quaranta, who led the team in minutes played last year, now finds himself starting most games from the bench. In nine appearances this season, only two have come as starts.

It’s taken some time for him to adjust to the new role.

“In the beginning it was a little more difficult when I didn’t play,” he said. “Now I understand [Ben Olsen’s] my coach, I do whatever I can for him. He knows that he can count on me, no matter what.”

Quaranta, a 10-year MLS veteran who first joined D.C. United in 2001, is one of a few players on the current roster who knew Olsen as a player, before he became head coach at United. In fact, Olsen is a good friend who was instrumental in Quaranta’s return to DC a few years ago.

Back in 2008, when Quaranta found himself without a club and recovering from substance abuse, Olsen was one of the players to speak up on Quaranta’s behalf, urging DC to give him another chance.

After proving himself that year, Quaranta has rebuilt his career with the club. One of the most experienced players on a young team, he’s settled into his role and is eager to help his team and coach however he can.

He did just that against Colorado last weekend. Starting from the bench, he was called into action in the 34th minute to play up front when Charlie Davies went down with a hamstring injury.

“I thought [Quaranta] did very well up top and gave us a really nice spark,” Olsen said after the game. “It hasn’t been an easy transition for him, being on the bench, but I was really proud of him coming in and doing a good job tonight.”

In the grind of a long season, Quaranta has the experience to know his chance will come.

“You come on, just try to bring energy and try to help the team," Quaranta said. "It’s as simple as that.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.