DC Notebook: Kitchen eager to play after Olympic debacle

Perry Kitchen

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WASHINGTON — Less than 48 hours after seeing his Olympic dreams dashed in the final moments of the United States' 3-3 draw with El Salvador on Monday night, United midfielder Perry Kitchen was back at practice with the Black-and-Red.

By now accustomed to the back-and-forth nature of Olympic duty, Kitchen went right back to his familiar role, leading D.C. through a warmup before doing some light ball work on the side as his teammates took part in small-sided games.

After practice, Kitchen opened up about Monday evening's heartbreak. The 20-year-old midfielder called the Olympics a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity adding that the failure to advance to London was "tough to swallow."

WATCH: D.C. return home to face FCD

Despite playing three games in five days — and suffering a massive emotional letdown — Kitchen responded authoritatively when asked if he'd be ready if called upon Friday night against FC Dallas (7:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com).

"Yeah, of course," noted United's second-year midfielder. "Honestly I think it's a positive to kind of find a rebound. [To] get my mind off of it and get back with this team. This is now my main goal and focus so I think it will be positive."

Final Four fever

Just like offices across America, D.C. United's locker room is wrapped up in March Madness. With only three games left before the brackets are officially complete, a pair of wingers are poised to take the title of top hoops prognosticator.

Rookie Nick DeLeon and Chris Pontius enter the Final Four tied for first place. Both midfielders have Kansas winning it all, but DeLeon picked Louisville — his alma mater — to make the national title game alongside the Jayhawks while Pontius chose Kentucky as his other finalist.

"I'll be screaming at the TV for sure," laughed DeLeon, who sports a Louisville tattoo on his right arm.

At the other end of the spectrum is midfielder Danny Cruz. In charge of organizing the friendly locker room competition, Cruz was in last place entering the Sweet 16.