- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2005

People are still talking about the amazing goal D.C. United midfielder Joshua Gros scored in the 3-1 win against the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium on Saturday night.

The diving header from Ben Olsen’s cross was the No. 3 Play of the Day on ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter.’ The goal was Gros’ second of the season in just six games. The former Rutgers star scored only one goal in his rookie season in 29 regular-season games and none in four playoff games.

‘All week long [United assistant coach] Tommy Soehn was working with me on headers, and it proved to be worthwhile,’ Gros said. ‘It was a great pass from Freddy [Adu] to Benny, who crossed — and I was just in the right place. I’ve never scored on a diving header before.’

The goal was emblematic of the hard work Gros, 22, has put in for United this season. The enthusiastic and speedy flank player has made impressive runs. Gros found himself ideally placed in the season opener at Chivas USA on April 2 to slot home Brian Carroll’s pass for his first goal in the 2-0 win. Both his goals have been game-winners.

The 6-foot midfielder also brings the club a needed physical presence.

‘We are not a huge team, but we play a physical style,’ Gros said. ‘When we play more physical, we set the tone. Everybody has a role, and a big part of my role is to be a bit more physical.’

For Gros, who plays fearlessly as a defensive midfielder, the rough play has its consequences. Last season he wore a large cast on his right arm for five months, covering a broken wrist he suffered in an exhibition game against the Rochester Rhinos in June.

In Saturday’s game he fell hard on the arm and there was concern that he had broken the wrist again.

‘Actually it seems my wrist never really healed so I will have to have surgery at the end of the season,’ Gros said.

United is loaded with talented midfielders and the competition for playing time is intense, but Gros continues to impress and is one of just three United players to have started every game this year.

Up next for the feisty midfielder is a game at New England on Saturday. The unbeaten Revolution (5-0-1) are the hottest team in the league, and Gros will have to deal with Steve Ralston, the league’s all-time leader in minutes played (23,341). Ralston has seven goals and 11 assists in 31 games against United over 10 seasons.