The Black-and-Red have been dealing with injuries all season, they are just getting to the point where they’ll have their full roster healthy and at their disposal. The latest player looking to go from the training fields to the roster on game day is Markus Halsti.
The Finland native spent the last seven seasons in the top division of Swedish football, he’s made 20 appearances for the national team as well. He’s a versatile player as he can play in midfield and on the backline. As he’s finally ready for duty, it’ll be interesting to see how and where Coach Olsen sees him as a fit for the Black-and-Red. Halsti was acquired this past December, but an injury has kept him sidelined to start the season.
With Birnbaum still not quite ready to return, Halsti could definitely be an option to provide relief to a member of the backline or even in midfield. Earlier today Halsti addressed a small group of media as he looks forward to making his debut here in DC.
On any anxiousness about the possibility of making his debut tomorrow against Sporting KC
It’s been a little over 11 weeks now, that I’ve been with the injury. Of course it takes time to come that level I’d like to be, probably everyone understands i’m not at that level where I should maybe be after injury. I’ve been, is it tomorrow, is it next week, whenever. Just want to be on the field and play football, just want to be there for the fans. That’s been the motivation for the last three months, to just step onto the field. It’s going to be a nice feeling.
What he’s learned about the MLS from the sideline this season
Every game is a tough game. It’s hard to put MLS in some kind of box, that every team plays ‘this’ kind of football. Every team plays their own kind of football, s that was also one of the most interesting parts of coming here. Kansas which plays that kind of football and then Columbus that wanted to play like Barca football. I mean, that’s interesting for me. I was thinking about it and also the physical side, games are tough. It’s been like every one of our games has went to the last five minutes, to the last seconds, it’s really tough. That we are not winning or losing by three goals, it’s close games and that is also one reason I wanted to come here. Every week is going to be a tough week. That said, I think we have actually succeeded pretty good even though we had injuries, Fabi has been away. We have had to adjust our system a little bit, but we actually did a good job and a few games that we lost points in the end. But that comes, some games we have won the games in the last minute. Some games we have maybe let them tie in the last minute, but generally the football has been pretty much what I expected.
His thoughts on United’s style of play
Well that’s also what I expected and what I talked with Ben when I came here in December, how we play, how DC plays. It’s, everybody plays for the team. That’s really important for me also, we have great individuals on the team but everybody wants to play for the team and that the team wins. Everyone wants to win the game and to do that, usually the team has to play together. We defend good, I think that’s one of the main things that we defend as a team. Every player wants to defend, it’s pretty much what I heard. I talked with Ben before I came here and also tactical, it’s been 4-4-2. In Vancouver, we did a little bit of change because of what we had, the guys we had, but usually 4-4-2. Especially like last game, how we closed the game in the last half an hour, how the team defended, that was exactly what I expected and what to see from the team. Everybody worked for the team, Columbus didn’t have that much room to create. Even if they had the ball, but to come on our side, in the final third. So they couldn’t create anything because we were really good as a team, exactly like the image, what I want to see when we’re winning the game.
How he fits on the team, which position(s)
National team, last game I played as a left back was two years ago against France. So they call me in Finland, a little like a swiss army knife. They were like this guy is injured, what are you going to do? Because you always have the squad, up to 24 players on national team, or also on the club team. It’s been a little bit like all around, but I prefer to play in the middle. Well, we’ll see. Of course I hope to play in one position, that’s the best thing. Then again if the team needs me and that’s what I was saying also, I play for the team. In the end if we have everyone that plays for the team, than we can go far with this team. So I would rather have one position that I play, but then it’s Ben who will decide. I’d rather not have it like that, Saturday I would play right back, Wednesday I would play left back, the next Sunday I would play centre-mid, but I’ve done it. I’ve done it before, but mentally it’s pretty exhausting, you just have to focus so much when you know you have to change positions.