Know your enemy: Black and Red United answers our questions

DC United midfielder Nick DeLeon is probably running away with Rookie of the year award. The Montreal Impact will need to ad him to its watch-list of players to be aware of on the field.

The SBNation tradition continues as Black and Red United's editor Martin Shatzer and myself exchange questions to give an insight to their respective teams. Read my answers to Black and Red United's questions by following the magical link.

1. With an '' even '' record of 2-2-2 (W-L-T) and an offensive potential that cannot be ignored, do you feel that D.C. United is playoff bound in an inconsistent Eastern Conference?

United's 2-2-2 record is a bit deceiving. The only two losses came against the two defending regular season conference champions. United was cursed with a difficult early season schedule that saw the team struggle to gain its footing off the bat, but has since gone four games unbeaten. Had D.C. been blessed with the early schedule of, say, the Impact, the team's record probably wouldn't be quite so even. This group of players is playoff bound, and should compete for the No. 3 spot in the East. If United's designated players Hamdi Salihi and Branko Boskovic finally get off the blocks, they could even compete for the MLS Cup.

2. Not so different than Jesse Marsch, Ben Olsen made the quick transitioning from playing to coaching, as he takes on his second year as the head coach: did the man and player translate directly into the coach that he is becoming ? did you see a transition/change/evolution between Year 1 and Year 2?

United's definite improvement in the second year of the Ben Olsen era has been more due to the rebuilt roster than any noticeable improvement in Olsen's coaching abilities, but the team has found some chemistry and is going through a culture change, and Olsen is a big reason for that. United made the difficult decision to release its four longest tenured players this offseason, among others, to attempt to eradicate the culture of losing that had settled into the locker room at RFK Stadium the past few years. They've been replaced by a combination of role players and proven talents, and its showing on the field.


3. Nick DeLeon is getting a lot of attention and not just for his hair. A hot rookie that seems to be versatile: is there a specific influence within the team that is making him integrate the pros so well at such an early stage of his career?

Before turning pro, DeLeon shined at Louisville because he was used in a surprising fashion that took opposing teams by surprise. DeLeon was his team's chief creative attacking presence, but he did it from a wing position, not centrally. That experience has served him well at United. The hard-working midfielder has two goals and three assists already this season, contributing on both sides of the ball, as well as corner kicks. DeLeon has good speed, accurate passing ability, a perfect first touch, and a deadly shot. If he continues on this pace, he could run away with the Rookie Of The Year award.

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