Mission One: ‘Win the next game’
You’ve heard the reasons behind the decision to make a mid-season coaching change and you’ve heard the reasons why Ben Olsen was the man who needed to be placed at the helm. You’ve heard the mission statement from D.C. United. You’ve listened to everything and still you know that seeing is believing. So, will you see a win on Saturday for D.C. United? Here are some things to consider prior to the match.
- Poetry in Olsen – For being a player who was rarely flamboyant, Ben Olsen has always had a flair for the dramatic. He also often displayed an ability to know when the moment was right for greatness, a left-footed goal on Marco Etcheverry Day, a hat-trick against New York and, of course, the 1999 MLS Cup. On Saturday in his coaching debut, Olsen will have a chance to earn his first win as D.C. United head coach against New England, the team against whom he scored the final goal of his career. Once again, the stars have aligned perfectly.
- Fresh Start – It’s not just the head coach that has a new start on Saturday, the players will be starting over, as well. Should Troy Perkins, who has had a below his high standard season, receive the nod in goal, this match could be the psychological clean slate to help re-discover the Troy Perkins that D.C. United signed in the off season.
- Old Friends – No player for D.C. United will be as desperate to secure a win for Ben Olsen than his two long-time friends and teammates Jaime Moreno and Santino Quaranta. Neither one of those players has been at their best this season, but with a chance to help their team and their new coach, Jaime and Santino are sure to put forth maximum effort. Quaranta has scored more goals against New England than any other opponent in MLS.
- New Faces – There are key new players for United that probably don’t exactly understand the significance of this week’s activity. Pablo Hernandez, Branko Boskovic, and Danny Allsopp just know that there’s a new coach and a new re-enforced emphasis on performance. You don’t have to have harbored a long love for D.C. United or Ben Olsen to know that, with a new coach, every player is at risk. Job security can be as motivating a factor as long-term friendships.
- Renewed Rivalry – D.C. United and the New England Revolution have combined for 27 points this season. Los Angeles already has 40. This Saturday isn’t exactly the 2004 Eastern Conference Final, but even though DC and NE are at the bottom of the East don’t expect a decrease in competitiveness. The teams are still rivals and the Revs would find it very satisfying to send United to their worst season ever. Meanwhile, D.C. would love to say that the franchise turnaround began with a road win in Gillette Stadium.