WASHINGTON — One year after enduring a season as more of a peripheral figure out in Kansas City, veteran forward Josh Wolff has made the most of his offseason move to D.C. United.
At nearly the halfway point of the 2011 season, the decision to bring in the World Cup veteran looks to be a succesful one, and a huge benefit to a young United team. Wolff, 34, has enjoyed the switch to the nation’s capital, already surpassing his 2010 stats with three goals and four assists this season.
“It’s been a good move,” Wolff told MLSsoccer.com. “For me, it’s a new city, new team, but it’s a team that I think anyone looks forward coming to. It’s the team with the most tradition and history.”
After getting his family situated back in January, Wolff has quickly made the adjustment to DC. With 13 years of MLS experience, he is the team’s elder statesmen off the field, and said he’s made a point to be more vocal than in the past.
“I try to speak up more now than I ever have, obviously with a new group, a different group, but in a respective manner that’s encouraging that’s direct and to the point,” he said.
On the field, Wolff has been one of two players on the roster to appear in all 15 games so far for DC, and he’s shown an ability to act as a playmaker from his forward positions. He’s also been able to develop a solid partnership with any other forward — whether that’s been Joe Ngwenya, Charlie Davies or Blake Brettschneider.
One thing helping Wolff’s adjustment was his relationship with head coach Ben Olsen prior to his move to DC. The two played against each other in MLS and were teammates on different iterations of the US national team.
Moving from the playing field to the coaching staff can cause a shift in the dynamic of a relationship, but Wolff said things between him and Olsen aren’t that different.
“I don’t think it’s changed a whole lot,” he said. “I have a great deal of respect for Benny.”
Even into his mid-30s, Wolff says he feels good physically, though he’s careful to manage himself closely. And while the same pace of his youth isn’t there, the savvy vet still has plenty of speed, and what he lacks in that department makes up with his ability to hold the ball and using his experience.
He has big expectations for the relatively young DC squad, despite the club’s youth, and thinks the team is capable of continuing their improvement and challenging for postseason later in the season.
“I still think for us there’s a lot to achieve,” he said. “That’s not being bold, we have a good enough group to get it done, it’s just a matter of seeing it through.”
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.