- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2008

D.C. United had just three weeks of practice last season before playing two Champions Cup games against CD Olimpia of Honduras beginning on Feb. 21, both of which the club won.

United has a little more time to prepare this year.

Its first competitive game is not until March 12, when United travels to Jamaica for the Champions Cup.

“It feels like an eternity compared to last year,” coach Tom Soehn said.

United has practiced for nearly a month in Florida and now in California.

“The soccer has been better in the second camp, but I also see how quickly our legs get tired so we have plenty of work to do,” said Soehn, who enters his second season as coach.

United has won one preseason exhibition match so far — a 6-0 victory over the U.S. under-17 team. But it has lost to Chivas USA (1-0), Danish club Odense BK (1-0), the U.S. under-23 team (2-0) and tied the Kansas City Wizards (1-1) and Toronto FC (1-1).

The team plays an exhibition game against the San Jose Earthquakes tomorrow in Camarillo, Calif.

“We don’t need to get results right away,” Soehn said.

For its final practices, United will be in San Antonio, where it will play in a preseason event with games against Houston (March 5), Toronto FC (March 7) and Chivas USA (March 9).

“When we get to San Antonio we will really focus on results and start putting in the minutes,” Soehn said.

United’s roster has gone through quite an overhaul in the preseason with numerous new faces, including five South American players.

“First we need to build friendships off the field and then build chemistry on the field,” Soehn said. “The first part is coming along fine, but we need a lot of work to get the second part right.”

As for Luciano Emilio, United’s top goal scorer last year, Soehn said: “He took his break to relax and he needs to catch up physically, but by March 12 he should be full out.”

On former Argentine World Cup star Marcelo Gallardo, Soehn said: “He’s getting acclimated to our system and starting to have an impact on the game more and more. There are so many transitions a player has to go through coming into this league. He has to learn what we are about, and we have to learn what he is about.”

The Real deal — Real Maryland FC of the USL Division II has invited fans to its first practice at Maryland SoccerPlex tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Women’s team — Veteran goalie Briana Scurry has been dropped from the U.S. team,which will play in the 12-team Algrave Cup next month in Portugal.

Nicole Barnhart replaces Scurry, with Hope Solo as the other keeper on the roster.

The U.S. team plays China (March 5), Italy (March 7) and Norway (March 10) in the Cup.

Beckham update — David Beckham looked in shape and played all of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s 1-0 loss to Gamba Osaka on the artificial turf of Aloha Stadium in Hawaii on Wednesday night.

But Beckham was clearly frustrated at the failure of his teammates to do little with the numerous crosses and passes he made.

Milestones — Italian star Paolo Maldini played his 1,000th game for AC Milan, when he came off the bench in a 0-0 draw at Parma. The 39-year-old who has spent 23 years at Milan dedicated the game to his wife.

Alex Ferguson coached his 100th FA Cup game as Manchester United downed Arsenal 4-0 last Saturday, while midfielder Ryan Giggs made his 100th Champions League appearance for United in the 1-1 tie at Lyon.

Notes — Paul Dalglish, the former Houston Dynamo forward, signed with Kilmarnock of the Scottish Premier League.

Paul Gascoigne, who once had a tryout with D.C. United, has been detained under Britain’s Mental Health Act after a disturbance at a hotel this week.

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