Photo by Pete Guion – UltiPhotos.com
Open Tryout | Day 1
On Sunday February 8,over 50 of the top players in the Washington D.C. Metro region attend the first of two open tryouts for the reigning MLU Champions, the D.C. Current.
A total of 51 players – 13 players under contract and 38 prospects – arrived at the Total Soccer Arena in Hyattsville, Maryland before the crack of dawn at 5 a.m. Such an early tryout time has turned into a tradition for the Current and is intended to attract only the most dedicated players.
This season’s tryout period was reduced from four weeks to three weeks, giving the coaches less time to evaluate players.
“This year, we cut out drills that we didn’t see anything out of,” said Assistant Coach Will Smolinski. “It’s not really that we are looking at different stuff, it’s that we’re looking at it and focusing on it in a different way.”
At the opening of the tryout the coaches outlined the goals of the season for the team: Win another championship, build a dynasty and focus on the players.
“We want to see you, the players, grow,” said Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer. “Hopefully by the end of this [tryout] you are a better player.”
Throughout the tryout it was clear that the coaches were focused on defense. Last year the defensive depth was a huge factor in the Current’s run for the championship.
“We are now looking to fill certain roles,” said Moldenhauer. “We want guys who can make those 50-50, one-on-one plays.”
This was well represented in the evaluation drills; they focused on one-on-one match-ups that forced the players to win the disc on offense and defense.
The prospective players who are competing for the final 15 roster spots were not afraid to challenge established players from last year. They laid out despite playing on a small field surrounded by nets and walls.
“There were a lot of new faces trying out that did not last year,” said General Manager Matt Dewhurst. “This year the players have a lot of upside and are more competitive.”
Some of the standouts include Chuck Cantone, who scored 27 goals as a member of the Montreal Royal in 2014. Another standout was Kevin Healey, who played at the University of Rhode Island. While at Rhode Island, the distance runner was on the school’s track and field team.
The signed players in attendance were well-aware that even though they had signed a contract, they are still competing for a spot.
“Being signed doesn’t mean anything,” said defensive handler Erik Salmi. “This is an opportunity to test our future teammates.”
Check out the UltiPhotos page for full coverage of the event.
Open Tryout | Day 2
This past Sunday, February 15, the team returned at 5 a.m. to the Total Soccer Arena for the second open tryout. This time around 58 players – 44 of them being prospects – arrived despite the icy road conditions. Over the course of two days, 54 different prospects competed for a spot in the invite-only round.
Athletes from across the Mid-Atlantic, as well as a player from Germany, showcased their skills and raised the level of competition.
“I felt it was more intense this week,” said Assistant Coach Will Smolinski, “We got a fresh influx of players.”
This week, Coach Keven Moldenhauer focused on specific skills sets such as throwing accuracy and breaking the mark.
“The tryout exceeded my expectations,” said prospective player Trent Cooper. “The drills were very complex. They were really intense and really competitive.”
Players from last year’s team were on hand to provide leadership and help prospects communicate on the field. While Chip Cobb’s tryout was cut short by an ankle injury, he cheered players on from the sidelines.
“The top players will separate themselves from the rest,” said Dewhurst. “It’s the final six or seven spots that will be the toughest.”
Following the morning session, a total of 22 prospects have now been asked to return to the invite-only tryouts next Sunday. The remaining players on the team will reconvene at the Total Soccer Arena on February 22 at 5 a.m for their final opportunity.