WASHINGTON – With D.C. United’s 2014 season in the rearview, United captain Bobby Boswell has a lot of time on his hands.
Too much, really.
“[My offseason] looks like [expletive] right now,” Boswell told MLSSoccer.com at the team’s final media availability. “I didn’t make any plans through December 7.”
At the close of the regular season, United’s players and coaches were certainly in no position to be making plans any sooner than that date, the day this year’s MLS Cup champions will be determined. United were Eastern Conference front-runners and seemed a safe bet to dispose of New York in the conference semis.
But it all unraveled for United at Red Bull Arena on November 2, when an in-form Red Bulls side took advantage of a D.C. squad that put in a subpar effort in their most important game of 2014.
For a veteran like Boswell – who’s made the playoffs every single year of his career except one – it was a tough pill to swallow.
"We're upset with our year," said Boswell. "We're upset with how we got knocked out of the playoffs. If you were to go back a year or so, if you said, 'This team makes the playoffs,' most people would say, 'Oh, they've had a good year.' But we are genuinely upset that we didn't take care of business in the playoffs – because of what could have been."
Despite United's flameout, 2014 will likely still be remembered as an excellent year for the club, and Boswell played a vital role in the club’s resurgence, anchoring a completely re-shaped backline and thrusting himself into the conversation for a Defender of the Year nod. At 31, the former Houston Dynamo center back is an MLS fixture but looks no worse for wear, displaying the same dependability and leaderhship that’s made him among the league’s most consistent central defenders.
Before he even took the pitch in a United kit, though, there were some who may have doubted his ability to continue contributing at a more advanced stage in his career. His former head coach in Houston, Dom Kinnear, may have been one of them.
“Kinnear made a comment about my age in our offseason meeting that kind of pissed me off. I just feel like I’m very durable," Boswell said. "It’s not just games; I don’t miss trainings. I can count the number of days I’ve missed in my entire career on one hand. I like practice. I like being here. That will never change. They will have to kick me out at some point, because I enjoy all of it.”
Boswell made it very clear that he remains on good terms with Kinnear – “I love Dom” – but the comment certainly served as a bit of motivation to find success elsewhere.
“I think it was a ploy to get me to come to play for [less money]. I don’t think he meant it as an insult, but I took it as one. I’ve been more durable than anybody. I show up everyday – to talk to me about my age; I have more energy than some of these young guys, so don’t talk to me about my age.”
D.C. head coach Ben Olsen had little concern with Boswell’s age.
“Ben called me and asked, 'How’s your body?' I told him, 'I feel like an 18-year-old.' That was the only conversation we had about that.”
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Boswell, along with the majority of United’s other core veterans – including Davy Arnaud, Chris Rolfe and Sean Franklin – will almost certainly return to give it another go in 2015. Moments away from stepping out of RFK for the last time this year, Boswell suggested that the best thing United could do for their chances going forward is to stick with the formula that brought them success in 2014.
“You probably always want to add pieces, but the group we had at the end of the year [is a solid start.] At the beginning we were trying to figure each other out, and as we started winning and rolling along we started figuring other teams out. The biggest thing is that if we have another year together we can figure out more teams, win more games, get more points in places we dropped points.”
But for now, Boswell will turn his attention towards the offseason. He suggested he might pay a visit to Houston, or Florida. Or he’ll steer towards a body of water to pursue another one of his passions. Maybe.
"Ideally, I’d get to go fish every day,” said Boswell. “But I don’t think my wife’s too big on letting me do that."