D.C. United can’t be bothered right now with the details of New York City FC, the 20th MLS team unveiled on Tuesday. While that club, owned by Manchester City and the New York Yankees, won’t start play until 2015, United (2-8-1) is still sitting on nine-game winless streak after Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City.
With that in mind, new trialists were the order of the day as the team begins its preparation for a visit by the Portland Timbers (4-1-7) on Saturday.
The new trio of players: Mike Grella, a former Duke standout who spurned MLS in 2009 for the chance to try his hand at finding a place in the English game; Jesjua Angoy Cruyff, a grandson of legendary Dutchman Johan Cruyff, who once played for the Washington Diplomats in the old NASL; and English winger Peter Gregory, a former member of the Nottingham Forest under-21 team who has more than 20,000 followers on Twitter.
“We’re going to see a lot of guys come through this door,” United coach Ben Olsen said. “It’s a tough task over a couple days to really make decisions on guys like this for the positive because you don’t get to see them in big games, but you never know.”
*Still, the far bigger news of the day was in New York, where MLS welcome a huge infusion of cash ($100 million expansion fee, hundreds of millions more in a stadium) and prestige. Whatever your feelings about the Yankees or New York in general, this is a big deal for MLS, one that could allow the league to make another leap forward both as a business and as a respected part of the sport.
“So there’ll be no money in that team, right?” United midfielder Chris Pontius said. “It’s good. Another team for us to have a rivalry with.”
Olsen backed away from the chance to stoke things and say something he’d regret.
“I’d rather there than the Pacific Northwest,” Olsen said. “It’s an easy train ride for us.”
“I think the more teams the better,” United forward Dwayne De Rosario said. “I think the league is definitely showing how much it’s improved and developed. I think another team in New York, it’s a big city. I know they have the Red Bulls, but it’s not technically in New York. It’s in Newark, New Jersey. It’ll be nice to see a game actually in the city. It’s a very knowledgeable and passionate soccer community in New York so I think it makes sense. It’s big enough. I could imagine that team being very good. Now, who is going to support who will be something they’ll have to figure out.”
*While United got its practice week under way, goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra and forward Michael Seaton will be on the roster for the Richmond Kickers tonight in the U.S. Open Cup against Icon FC, an amateur team that includes former and short-lived D.C. United member Danny Szetela.
Casey Townsend, Taylor Kemp and Conor Shanosky have all played for the Kickers this season but will remain on the United roster for the annual knockout tournament.
If the Kickers win tonight, they’ll host D.C. next week.
“It’s awkward, but it’s fun,” Shanosky said, and he should know. The Potomac Falls native played with the Kickers against the team that pays his salary during the preseason. It’s also his second loan stint after spending last season with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the NASL.
“I like to be here [in D.C.] as much as possible because it’s the group that I’ve always wanted to be a part of,” Shanosky said. “The Richmond thing has been going well so if I’m back there, I’m obviously going to look to keep it up and we’ve been off to a good start down there with the season so it’s important to focus on that when I’m there and focus here when I’m here. I enjoy being here so it’s nice that it’s been closer than Fort Lauderdale.”
Shanosky made the 18-man roster for last weekend’s game against Kansas City but has yet to play in an MLS match since signing with D.C. United in August 2010. He’s in a tough spot on the United depth chart behind iron man Perry Kitchen and other central midfielders, but Marcelo Saragosa went down last week with knee surgery.
“It’ll be nice to hopefully get into the Open Cup game,” Shanosky said. “It’s very encouraging coming back here and being in the 18 was very encouraging and motivating. It’s really pushing me to hopefully get in the squad here as soon as possible. Hopefully, I show well in the Open Cup, and that will lead to maybe an MLS appearance as well.”