April 23, 2018

D.C. United working new acquisitions into the lineup

United midfielder Russell Canouse kicks the ball up in the air. Courtesy of D.C. United.

D.C. United’s August hasn’t exactly been status quo. After going winless in two months of league play, United finally collected a win for the first time since June 21 thanks to an odd 40-yard back-pass Saturday that resulted in a Colorado Rapids own goal and a United 1-0 victory.

“We feel a little lighter around here, but hungry,” coach Ben Olsen said. “We need to try to get a bunch of points out of these next few weeks and try to make this thing interesting.”

Though last-place United (6-15-4) may not look “interesting” in the standings, their off-field moves have caused a stir. United’s handful of acquisitions slowly crept toward eligibility since the close of the Secondary Transfer Window August 9, including a free agent acquisition of former Columbus Crew goalkeeper Steven Clark from Danish club AC Horsens ahead of the Sept. 15 Roster Freeze. After Sept. 15, no changes can be made to MLS teams’ 30-man rosters through the end of the 2017 MLS Cup.

Twenty-two-year-old midfielders Russell Canouse and Paul Arriola have both seen playing time for United since joining the team and forward Bruno Miranda has cleared eligibility. The smooth transition overseas was not the case for Hungarian midfielder Zoltan Stieber and Clark.

Stieber was cleared to play in Colorado, but due to a late flight back from Europe and minimal time to prepare, his first match with United will most likely come this week against Atlanta United or the New England Revolution.

“[Dave Kasper] is the one to talk about those specifics,” Olsen said. “Each club and country drags their feet in different ways. Some are easy and some take a little bit of time.”

Clark’s permit is still pending, but United is hopeful the deal will be done in time for Wednesday’s match against Atlanta.

The Black-and-Red were hoping to have Clark available to play against Colorado last week. The goalkeeper traveled with the team but was unable to make the 18-man roster. Rookie goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky had to fly out late to meet the team and take Clark’s place in the lineup.

“I think [Clark] should be OK,” Olsen said Tuesday. “If not we will have Eric [Klenofsky] back Bill [Hamid] up and we will continue getting Travis [Worra] games down in Richmond.”

Worra occupied the backup goalkeeper spot behind Hamid earlier this season. With Hamid’s contract negotiations still going on and the chance that Hamid could get called up to the U.S. men’s national team for World Cup qualifiers, Worra was sent down to Richmond to play matches on the USL team, Richmond Kickers.

While Clark and Stieber’s road was a little bumpy on the way to RFK’s pitch, youngsters Arriola and Canouse got going right away. Arriola, who United invested their largest transfer fee in, has been in the starting lineup ever since his trade. Canouse made his MLS debut starting against Colorado in the midfield. After playing almost seven years in Germany, Canouse is quickly learning the feel of MLS and his new team.

“Me personally, I like to watch players,” Canouse said. “You can see it pretty quickly down on the field. You pick it up. I like to understand the game tactically. So watching it from the sideline, I am not just watching the game, but I am watching the guys in my position. I watch how I can connect with other players.”

United has two chances to test new players this week. Former D.C. United captain Bobby Boswell and Atlanta United come to town Wednesday, August 23 for a 7:30 p.m. match at RFK Stadium. Two days later, New England Revolution comes to town for a Saturday match August 26 at 7 p.m.

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