Ryan Nelsen anchors the United defense and captains the team.
Tony Quinn/MLS/WireImage.com

Q&A with Nelsen, Moreno

Ryan Nelsen

What does Freddy Adu have to do to get better in your eyes?

"It's tough for the guy. For years, people have been telling him, 'You're the best.' Now he's come up against a bunch of guys who defend better than he attacks. It's kind of a rude awakening that he's got to improve and he's got to get rid of the bad habits that he could get away with at that level and can't get away with at this level. He's so young, and he's got so much time. Any lessons for him are great. I think it's more that people expected him to have a greater impact than his talent allows."

"It's not a skill issue. Everyone is skilled on this level. The defenders are way better than what he's come across. We cannot expect him to just turn it on. If you put him against the U-17 Columbus Crew team he'll (destroy) them. These guys, Robin Fraser and Chad Marshall, aren't going to let him go."

What is the level of frustration with the games and the calls that have gone against the team in the early going?

"You always say that it should be the result of the way you're playing. And we're playing very well. We're doing too many good things for this not to turn around at some stage. You look at Columbus, who are playing so badly, and they turn around and get a point against us. They're probably pretty happy right now. In professional sports, it's such a fine line. We played really well and we come in with our heads down because we played so well we only got the point. As long as you're playing well, the points will come over the duration of the season. It's only a matter of time that the points will come."

People are saying that 2/3 of the defense are playing well. Do you get the feeling that something is missing on the back line?

"No, not at all! We're all on one page. It's just unfortunate. Being defenders, we're the last ones and we get the blame. When the ball goes into the back of the net, we're the ones back there. Occasionally, it's Brandon (Prideaux), occasionally it's me, occasionally it's Bryan (Namoff), occasionally it's Mike (Petke). We're all in this together. Some guys have had some bad games. I've had bad games and the other guys around you carry you through."

Comment on Jaime Moreno and his return to the team?

"I think Jaime needed a wake up call like that, like being released by New York. It got his enthusiasm and motivation back for the game. He's much more fit, and the talent is obviously there. He's been such a welcomed addition to the team on the field and off the field."

Jaime Moreno

You are one of the oldest players on the team. Do you feel like it gives you more responsibility?

"Just like everybody, I have a role on this team. You feel like you have to do more for the young players, but you always try to maintain that level of play. It's very important that the experienced players step up and do more on the field. But, things have to be done as a team. We've been doing that, but just not enough."

Do you feel as if you are back in your old form?

"Yeah, I'm just glad that I came back and that my back is fine. I've just been trying to do some extra. I'm happy with where I'm at. I feel that I have to keep working hard to maintain."

Do you miss Marco Etcheverry out on the field?

"I think the whole league misses Marco. This is part of the life. Everybody is going to leave at one point. He was a great player and a great person. Hopefully, we'll have him around as a coach or something."

What does Adu have to do to improve?

"I don't know why people thought he was going to be a superstar when we knew that it wasn't going to be easy. It doesn't surprise me. I know a lot of people were expecting big things from him. This league isn't easy. As I said before, he's got a great future and plenty of time. He has a lot of pressure to do things, but that"s not in our hands."

"We've got to do a better job in training and on the field in games. He's just trying to get a read on what to do and how to understand. Coming from where he came, it's totally different than in MLS. He now knows how difficult it is in MLS. Now he's trying to do better in training."

With Convey hurt will you take on more responsibilities on the field?

"No, I've just got to keep doing my job as much as everybody. We know what we have to do and we just have to keep it together."

Do you consider yourself more a 'creator' or a 'finisher'?

"I haven't scored many goals yet. I'm just trying to create as many chances as I can and help the team, too. We're just trying to create the spaces for all the other guys to make runs. My role is to try to create and try to hold the ball for the team, also. Like I said, it's different than before because we had Marco then. It's a totally different situation because the league is so much better. But I'm enjoying it. Unfortunately, the results haven't been what we wanted."

John Dyson is a contributor to dcunited.com. His interview column runs every Wednesday.

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