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In middle or on left, versatile Woolard keeps DC on roll

Defender Daniel Woolard of DC United

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

WASHINGTON — When the injury bug came around the nation’s capital this season and started taking a bite out of D.C. United’s defensive line, questions arose. Who would step in?

Several players provided solutions, but the best answer came from Daniel Woolard.

GOAL: Woolard’s diving header

Unheralded coming into the season as United looked for depth at the left back position during the winter months, Woolard quickly stood out. Then, when injuries struck center backs Emiliano Dudar, Dejan Jakovic, and Robbie Russell, Woolard seamlessly shifted into the middle of the defense.

“Right now he is doing both well,” United manager Ben Olsen told MLSsoccer.com when asked about Woolard playing in both positions. “I appreciate the effort he has been giving this year, and he has bailed us out several times as far as going in the middle. It's always nice to have guys who can move out of their positions and be relied upon.”

During the offseason, United made it no secret that they were on the lookout for a left back to challenge and possibly usurp the left back position. Several trialists were brought in by Olsen and his staff, but none stuck, as Woolard continued to beat out the competition.

Having signed with United before the 2011 season, Woolard found a spot in Olsen’s backline after spending several seasons with the Chicago Fire and the Carolina RailHawks of the NASL. 

The comfort that Olsen now has with Woolard in the lineup -- should injuries or international callups affect his squad further -- shows his versatility. And for Woolard, anywhere on the field is just fine.

“I don’t mind playing either [position],” Woolard told MLSsoccer.com. “I am very comfortable in both positions, so there is no preference. I think we will see me more out left over the long run, but if there are stretches where they need someone in the middle, I guess they’ll put me there too.”

With Jakovic, Dudar, and Ethan White nearing full fitness, Woolard might see himself pushed back out wide against the New England Revolution on Saturday at RFK Stadium. And while United have gone a long way to improving over their meager previous seasons, Woolard believes that this team is far from being one of the best in MLS, even if their record might indicate they are closer at the moment.

“I don’t know if we have proved [that we’re one of the best] yet,” Woolard said. “We’ve won two games in a row for the second time, and it’s nothing to brag about. We have confidence that we can put streaks together, continue winning, and compete.”