With back-to-back games on the West Coast in a week, D.C. United had a decision to make in September.
They could fly back from Los Angeles after last weekend’s game against Chivas USA, only to turn around and make the same trip back out west for this Saturday’s tilt against the Seattle Sounders.
Or they could take the other choice: remain in Los Angeles early in the week and travel straight up the coast to Seattle. As it turns out, it call was an easy one to make.
“It’s nice not to have to make that cross-country flight twice in a short period of time,” midfielder Austin da Luz told MLSsoccer.com over the phone. “I think it was a good decision.”
Enjoying the warmth and sun of Los Angeles is just one of the many perks that DC have enjoyed this week training on the campus at UCLA. Having the entire group together in a week is almost like a preseason camp in the middle of the season.
“Whenever you get the team together and you can concentrate and focus all week on what you want to do, it’s a good thing,” midfielder Santino Quaranta said. “This is rare, that you’re away from home for 10 days in the season.”
And that camaraderie could prove particularly beneficial this weekend. After a 3-0 romp over Chivas USA, a tough matchup against the Seattle Sounders awaits, and having the team in one place gives veterans like Quaranta and forward Josh Wolff opportunities in abundance to remind some of the younger players how difficult the final stretch will really be.
“We’ve been around long enough to see a playoff run, to win an MLS Cup – [to know] what it takes, what goes into it, how these games go down now,” Quaranta said. “They’re not going to be like the Chivas game.”
DC will fly out of LA on Thursday.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.