Moreno, Olsen team-up to salvage point
By Charles Boehm / MLSnet.comWASHINGTON -- They're stuck on the wrong side of 30. Their legs and lungs don't perform at the capacity they once did. Their coach has to carefully regulate their playing time to keep them fresh.But even after all these years and all those miles on their odometers, Ben Olsen and Jaime Moreno -- call them D.C. United's grumpy old men -- remain indispensable to their club's cause. They proved as much on Friday night, combining to conjure up a late, late equalizer to peg back the New England Revolution and save their teammates' blushes in an intriguing 1-1 draw at RFK Stadium."I guess the real positive of today is that we've been losing goals at the end of games, and today we came back," said D.C. boss Tom Soehn afterwards. "I have always said that we're a young team: I'm not saying that anymore. We've got enough games now that we need to start showing some maturity. Sticking in there and getting a goal back is a positive, but I still feel like we gave away two points today."The home side had controlled play all night only to find themselves trailing thanks to an untimely defensive breakdown five minutes after halftime, when Shalrie Joseph finished Steve Ralston's cross with a well-timed run into the D.C. penalty area."It's just one of those games where you can outshoot them 20-4 and they can come away with a win -- they've just got to put one ball away," said United rookie Chris Pontius, a downcast figure after missing several scoring opportunities. "They put the ball away first, which gave them a little bit of momentum, too. We didn't finish our chances, especially me."But the hard-charging Olsen continued to rally his troops and when his old friend Moreno swung a free kick to the far post in second-half stoppage time, United's midfield metronome simply would not be denied as he capped a gutsy evening with a short-range header that was unsightly but essential."I looked at the clock and it was already 88 minutes and we were still going at it. We didn't deserve to be there, but Benny fought back and he did what he does best," said midfielder Santino Quaranta. "Benny's a fighter. We feed off of what he does. When Benny works like that, the rest of the guys see it and battle with him."After missing all but 15 minutes of last season with chronic ankle troubles, Olsen has returned with a vengeance in 2009, contributing yeoman's work over the first month of the campaign. Though he's lost a step of pace over the years, he retains a unique capacity to distribute, organize and inspire in the center of the park.New England midfielder Wells Thompson might add "antagonize" to that list as well. The duo clashed repeatedly all night and eventually earned matching yellow cards after Thompson's full-bodied challenge drew Olsen's ire in the 74th minute. But the United man got the last laugh as he scored his dramatic header with Thompson draped all over him."He's a good kid," said Olsen afterwards. "It's New England-D.C. I figured I'd try to start a fight with him to get things moving. It's a heated game. He's a competitor -- there are no hard feelings."The match marked Moreno's 298th league match and his role in Olsen's goal made it yet another historic occasion as he notched his 100th career assist, a suitable companion to his league-best 122 goals. The Bolivian is the first and only player in MLS history to reach triple digits in both goals and assists, and even at age 35 his skill and class remains apparent, though he had to fight through muscle cramping just to finish the match.But the goal's thrilling timing and historic significance could only partially obscure the troubling reality for United: They dominated possession and drew seven saves from Revs goalkeeper Brad Knighton yet still came within seconds of losing to a conference rival on home turf."It was a good goal and thanks to it we at least got a point, because honestly, it would have been terrible to lose at home," said Moreno. "Lots of looks at goal, lots of goal chances that we missed out on, so hopefully next game that won't happen."