By THOMAS FLOYD
WASHINGTON — D.C. United fans for weeks now have been awaiting the arrival of reinforcements to help end this club’s dramatic downward spiral. At training Tuesday, former U.S. national team defender Frank Simek was presented as one possible piece of that roster retooling puzzle.
The right back arrived on trial after his contract with third-tier English side Carlisle United was not renewed, training with the D.C. reserves as most starters took the day off from the practice field.
But if coach Ben Olsen likes what he sees, signing the 28-year-old will have to involve an acquisition through the allocation order, which United were bumped to the back of when they added Carlos Ruiz in January.
“He ate dinner with the U.S. men’s national team, so I’m sure they’ll put him through the allocation process,” Olsen said with a laugh. “If you buy a U.S. soccer jersey online, you have to go through the allocation order.”
Simek, who was joined on trial by journeyman striker Akpo Sodje, will be hoping to latch on with a United club sitting at 1-8-1 and enduring a seven-game losing streak heading into Sunday’s match against Sporting Kansas City.
“We’re in no position not to take a look at guys and try to make our team better,” Olsen said.
Here are some more notes from RFK Stadium on Tuesday:
THORRINGTON RETURNS TO TRAINING
While Simek was an intriguing new face Tuesday, John Thorrington was a welcome old one as he returned to training sporting a brace on his sprained left knee, though other players avoided hard contact with the veteran defensive midfielder.
“I think the ligament itself has healed pretty well,” Thorrington said. “It’s just a question of getting comfortable with it and the knee adapting back to the stresses of playing. I feel like I’ve already stressed it to almost everything that I’ll need to do. The last step would maybe be getting into tackles and everything.”
Added Olsen: “It’s a funny injury, right? You have to be confident enough to take a shot on that knee.”
Thorrington, who started the first two games of the season but has been out since March 9 with the sprained MCL, is optimistic about his progress but also doesn’t want to rush his recovery considering his injury-filled track record.
“If I put a time table on it, I would say I’m hoping to be ready tomorrow,” Thorrington said. “But we have to be smart enough to lean on the medical staff because I have a tendency to be overeager.”
DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE ACTION FOR WHITE?
Centerback Ethan White made his first start since October 2011 in United’s 2-1 loss at FC Dallas on Saturday, delivering a fairly sturdy performance. But the 22-year-old also picked up a yellow card for a rash tackle from behind on Dallas striker Eric Hassli, and the possibility of Disciplinary Committee action lingers.
“I’m sure they’ll be calling and suspend him a couple of games — five, 10, whatever,” Olsen said wryly. “He’s a competitor. He’s a guy that was tuned in for the whole game and played like it meant something and he wanted to keep his spot. And that was refreshing.”
Added White: “A card’s a card; it’s a man’s game. If they’re going to step in and say something, I’m not going to be happy about it. I didn’t think it was a card when I committed it, but watching the video, I hit him harder than I thought I did. But I can’t really speak on that — it’s not my decision.”
In Dejan Jakovic’s opinion, the tough nature of the match should be taken into account as White’s fate is considered, with the centerback pointing to “cheap shots” from Hassli and Blas Perez that helped fuel the competitive fire Saturday.
TOWNSEND RELISHES START
As White returned to the lineup, former University of Maryland teammate Casey Townsend made his United debut at Dallas, playing the full 90 minutes up top and ringing the post on a first-half chance.
“I think [the coaches] have been pleased with my training habits and how the game went,” Townsend said. “I was trying to work hard defensively just as hard as I worked offensively.”
So what does Townsend, who began the season on loan to third-division Richmond, need to improve upon to earn another run in the starting lineup?
“His movement was good; I thought we missed him a couple times when he made some smart runs,” Olsen said. “He gets the one chance that he’d like obviously to do better with, and so would we. But overall he did well.
“He’s an interesting guy because he’s so good in the air, but if you’re flicking balls on to nobody, it’s not that effective. Is he a two-forward guy? Can he hold the ball up for us a little bit more so we can bring our attack into him? Those are things we’re talking to him about.”
Is Simek the right player to boost United? How much will Thorrington’s return help? Should White face Disciplinary Committee punishment?
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