Tampa Bay Sports Day

Olsen fine tunes attack for Toronto

Oftentimes a coach will watch the film of the previous game and get a different perspective from what they saw on the sidelines. After watching his team’s 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy again, DC United coach Ben Olsen’s opinion did not change and it didn’t make him any happier.

“After watching the game again sometimes you get a different perspective. It was about what I thought; pretty good effort, happy we came back in dramatic fashion to get a point but still not good enough,” said Olsen. “We have to be better in our decision making when to go and try and hit the killer ball or when to just keep the ball and try and get a rhythm.”

United (1-2-1, 4 points) travels to BMO Field this Saturday to take on a Toronto FC team that is also trying to find their way.

After the Galaxy match, Olsen said they need to be a “better soccer team” to win games like these, in other words, they have to move the ball more efficiently, move the ball simply but with a purpose and delineate situations quickly and in a smarter manner.

United have garnered decent possession but gave up a goal on a set piece in that Galaxy match and have struggled to defend them efficiently so far this season. To compound the problem, the goal for Los Angeles was scored by one of the smallest players on the field, Mike Magee, who buried a nearly uncontested header from inside the 6-yard box.

“The set piece still drives me nuts,” said an exasperated Olsen. “That has been too many so far where they are putting us in a bad situation.”

After giving up that disappointing goal to Magee, United were savvy enough to recognize their situation but not good enough to consistently break the Galaxy down.

“Most of it just has to do with just having some patience,” said forward Josh Wolff after last Saturday’s loss. “They moved well as a group and knew what they needed to do and that’s where we need to take care of the ball and make a few extra passes rather than try and stick one in and go for the goal.”

“At that point we understand what they are going to do-they are gonna sit back a little more and take their chances on the counters thus we should have more of the ball and at that point we don’t do well enough with the ball and creating the advantages around the field and that comes from making soccer plays; moving it and getting the advantages,” Wolff said. “We were just a little stagnant, a little slow at interpreting plays and it wasn’t good enough going forward.”

But overall, Olsen is trying to put players into position to create an identity for themselves and this team. Typically it takes defined roles and consistent starting line ups to achieve the consistency he is seeking but that has not materialized. He doesn’t seem too fazed by that however.

“I don’t know if you necessarily need the same 11 out there every weekend. To me, it’s a consistent philosophy or a consistent way we want to play. You can plug guys in any week and still have similar results,” said Olsen.

“Everybody adds a little bit different of a thing, but I’m not so concerned with having that set 11. I want to develop a team that, if we have two guys out, pop those guys in and we’re okay. If they do well and they find a rhythm, we stay with that. Certain areas it would be nice to get a partnership. Certainly up top. We’ve got to find two that really start to gel a little bit. We haven’t had that luxury with injuries.”

After working in tandem with Wolff during Tuesday’s training session, it looks like forward Charlie Davies may get his first start up top but Olsen wouldn’t tip his hand. Davies would have started at Colorado but he injured his groin and trained sporadically.

If Davies is fit and healthy, he should bring an element of speed to stretch defenses that is, if someone can get him free in space at the right time.

Also, with Santino Quaranta’s ejection last weekend, his consecutive start streak will come to an end. This may be the moment to reinsert Andy Najar on the flank or perhaps Branko Boskovic or even Fred, to infuse much needed creativity into the attack and turn possession into substantive chances.

“We looked at film today and we had some good dialogue,” said Olsen after Tuesday’s training session. “This is a process and each week we are learning more and more about ourselves. I am still very happy with this bunch-the character of the group, the attitude has been great, we just have to keep moving forward and fix some of things that haven’t been good enough.”