DC Notebook: Fostering competition with depth
With the addition of Argentine defender Emiliano Dudar on Wednesday, D.C. United continued to rebuild their roster with less than two months to go before the start of the 2012 MLS season.
The 30-year-old center back, who last played for Swiss club Young Boys, brings much-needed experience and depth to D.C.’s back line. He’ll look to fight for a starting spot in the nation’s capital this season.
“He’s a big, strong physical presence,” assistant coach Chad Ashton told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s a leader, got a wealth of experience, very technical, good on the ball, with his height he’s good in the air. We just felt like he’s a guy who’s been around and a guy who can bring more experience to our back line.”
Dudar will compete for starting spots in the middle of defense with Dejan Jakovic, Brandon McDonald and second-year defender Ethan White.
It’s all a part of the technical staff’s plan to create a deep roster for the upcoming season and foster a battle at each spot for playing time.
“Our goal as a staff is to be two-deep at every position on the field, and I feel like we’re getting closer and closer to that on a daily basis,” Ashton said. “Our message to the guys is we want to make this a competitive environment, we want everyone to have to earn their spots on a daily basis, not just week-to-week or game-to-game.”
International signings remain a possibility
While the club has added Dudar, Danny Cruz and Maicon Santos in the past week, D.C. are by no means finished with the offseason additions. They have hosting a number of trialists in preseason camp.
“We’re still working on a couple names that I can’t share,” Ashton said. “We obviously have a very big camp, so it’s a lot of guys to manage right now.”
Ashton also said the team is looking to bring in more trialists in the preseason to join the likes of former US U-17 forward Stefan Jerome and former Chivas USA midfielder Marcelo Saragosa.
Positive progress on the injury front
As the club looks toward the March 10 season opener against Sporting KC, the handful of D.C. players still recovering from injury are all making positive progress.
Midfielder Chris Pontius (fractured tibia), forward Josh Wolff (stress fracture) and Ethan White (PCL sprain) are still on the road to recovery, while midfielder/defender Perry Kitchen was fully back in training this week after suffering a turf toe injury.
But the best news has been the lack of fresh knocks during this week’s training camp in Florida.
“We haven’t had – knock on wood – any injuries occur so far down here,” Ashton said. “For the most part, it’s just good news, guys are progressing. We have plenty of time so we want to make sure we don’t rush anybody.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, college and youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.