DC's Robbie Russell warms up before practice on Tuesday

Healthy returns a positive on DC's first day back

Photo courtesy of D.C. United

WASHINGTON — D.C. United are one of the earliest teams to hit the ground running this preseason, and for good reason: The coaching staff plans big changes all round.

The club has only 19 players currently on the roster, but they'll be joined by at least three more after they landed Lance Rozeboom, Charles Rodriguez and Matt Kuhn in Tuesday's Supplemental Draft.

Most of the players reported on Monday for fitness tests, and the backroom staff is planning on using this first week to see what shape the players are in after the offseason.

"I think we just want to have some maintenance with the returning guys and figure out where they are physically, as far as fitness and that sort of thing," assistant coach Chad Ashton told MLSsoccer.com. "With the younger players we have in camp, we want to do a little more with them."

With the first couple of days already in the books, D.C.'s coaches had the healthy members of the squad complete fitness tests. Most of the current players entered camp in good shape, and Ashton said the team completed a series of running drills on Tuesday.

One player who impressed was Branko Boskovic. The attacking midfielder missed most of last season with a torn ACL, and is now fully healthy, completing the run with no complaints about his surgically repaired knee.

"He did fantastic, finished very well in the run and looked great doing it," Ashton said. "He's definitely as fit as he's been since he's been here, so to have that be a starting point going into preseason is a big deal."

Also getting good news on the injury front was Chris Pontius. A fractured tibia ended the midfielder's season at the end of last season, and he has progressed well in his recovery, with a target return of the first week of March.

"He got some favorable [results] a couple days ago, everything was a good report from the doctor," Ashton said of Pontius. "It was all good news there."

After spending the first week of preseason in the area, United plan on traveling to Sarasota, Fla., next Monday, where they'll continue preparations for the 2012 MLS season.

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