Santino Quaranta is health again and ready to contribute on the field.
Tony Quinn/MLS/

Q&A with Quaranta, Convey

John Dyson is a contributor to

Santino Quaranta - forward/midfielder

How are you feeling physically and mentally?
"Good! It really feels good after five months. It's been tough to turn the corner immediately, but I'm excited just to be back on the field."

What is going to be the toughest part of coming back?
"Obviously, the skills never really leave you. It's just getting fit again. The physical part is the toughest part for me. My game will come."

It seems as though you have had a drastic change in your attitude and approach to the game. Is that the case?
"I have. I have a cocky swagger to me now, but now I have an appreciation for the game. It's not just a game, it's a career. And I have a family to support now. Basically, it's hard work and I want to keep working hard and have the right mentality - a winner's mentality. I want to succeed. I respect my teammates and appreciate the game that much more. It just clicked in my head. I don't know why, and I don't know how. I guess it's a growing up process."

Who do you credit that change to?
"It's a different atmosphere. The coaching staff is great. The work ethic is totally different. Peter (Nowak) and Tommy (Soehn) have been great for me mentally. Even Jaime (Moreno) coming back to the team, I really respect Jaime. You saw today, we're such good friends that we can yell at each other on the field, now we're getting ready to go play golf."

What are your expectations?
"I just want to help this team win, whatever it takes from me. Obviously, I want to succeed, but the main thing is that I want to help this team win. D.C. is where I want to be. This is an option year for me, and it's been tough for me to help this team win, because I've been out, but I'm going to help this team however I can."

What are the differences between this team and the last couple of years?
"Nothing against Ray (Hudson) at all, but it's two totally different mentalities. Peter was a player and a captain. He's a leader. When you've got guys like Earnie (Stewart) out there, they might not be putting up the best numbers, but I'll tell you that guys like Earnie and Benny (Olsen) would be the first guys on my team. They're just doing their jobs every game. It just seems like you have to follow in their footsteps. Just watching what they're doing, if you're slacking off, then you're the weakest link and you aren't helping the team at all. It just seems like you have to do your job when you follow guys like them. We've changed from a pretty playing team to a team that works hard. The six goals is crazy, but it seems like we should have been doing that all year as hard as we've worked. We're going to be fine. This is the best team I've been on since I've been here by far."

Have you talked with Coach Nowak about your specific role tactically? Forward? Midfielder?
"Not yet. I just want to get back on the field. It doesn't matter where I play. Whatever I do, I'll end up doing my job. We haven't really sat down and talked. This was only my second practice back into it fully. I feel like I'm coming along well. Maybe I can get some time soon, maybe next Wednesday. I need to get the feeling of being in a game again. It's totally different being in a game than just running everyday. We'll see what happens. Whatever it takes for it to happen, I'll do."

You are unique because you came into the league in a similar situation as Freddy Adu. What have you told him over the year to help him out?
"We've talked. I don't think he understood how hard it was going to be coming into the team. He's a great kid and a great young player. But, it's hard. Look at him, he's a small kid. He's going to go through a lot of things. Things don't look like they're going good for him right now, but he'll be fine. People are expecting so much from him and it's not fair to him at all. That's the burden he took on, but he's fine. He's got great people around him to help like George Weah. I don't see how he's not going to succeed. What am I going to tell him that George Weah can't say?"

Bobby Convey - midfielder

How do the playing conditions of the last game affect you?
"It was real hot, hot and humid. It's tough getting used to playing in that. But, I thought once we changed how we were playing a little bit, we went from a 3-4-3 back to a 3-5-2 because they had an extra guy in the middle, and we exploited that real well, we got our first goal, then started rolling real well."

When you are on the field it seems as if the team is much more aggressive. Do you feel that way? Or is it something that the coach has done recently tactically?
"No, for sure I like going forward. I've always liked going forward. I finally feel fitter. I got over a hump that when I was injured about a month ago and now I can run again. When you come back and you just play in games every week, I played in six games in three weeks, or whatever, flying all over the place I got a bit tired from that. But, now my fitness is back. When we make runs and we work together, I think the lineup we have on the field works well together and everyone adjusts for each other."

A couple of weeks ago when you went to the national team, and D.C. United was not playing well, sometimes it was nice to have a change of pace. Now that D.C. United is playing well, how difficult is it to get a national team call-up?
"It's always a tough thing. Everyone always wants to go with the national team and get as many games as the can. But you don't want to ever leave a team that is winning. I think we have the players that will be able to adjust to it. Whenever I get back, and it's the only bad thing about playing national tam games during the MLS season, in Europe you don't miss your club team games ever. It's an adjustment, but I think it will be all right."

Rumor has it that there continues to be interest in you from the English Premier League. Can you give any specifics?
"No, I can't say anything right now. I just have to be happy and focused on playing right now for D.C. United and the national team. Whatever comes about in the next month will come about, and I'll do what is best for me and my family's future. If it means staying with D.C. United, then that is what I'm going to do. For me, it's being wherever I can be to get better. So, there's nothing I can say now, and you will find out when the time comes."

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