Olsen and company have been here before
Ben Olsen has been here before.
With his defense decimated by injuries, D.C. United’ssecond-year coach faced a brutally congested stretch in the club’s schedule backin May. From April 28 through May26, Olsen used a staggering total of eight players along hisbackline.
While the center of the United defense was felled in thespring, late summer has laid waste to the perimeter of D.C.’s back four. Regular starters Robbie Russell andDaniel Woolard are expected to miss considerable time as the Black-and-Redembark on a six-match, twenty-two day run starting with Saturday’s showdown inKansas City.
“We are not freaking out at all,” likely starter Chris Korbsaid earlier this week. “Weexperienced it earlier this season. I don’t think anyone is concerned. This time around, we should all be accustomed to it so there won’t be aslong of an adjustment period.”
Instead of a predictable disaster, May saw the Black-and-Redenjoy their most profitable stretch of the season. Through those four weeks, D.C. collected 15 points fromseven matches.
According to midfielder Perry Kitchen, simplicity was thekey element in surviving - andthriving – during the difficult stretch.
“When I switch around positions I just try to keep it simple,”noted Kitchen, who played central midfield, central defense and right back atsome point in late April and May. “IfI move to right back, I focus on defending first. If I can get into the attack great, but my first priority isto defend. If guys that aresliding around have that mentality, we will be in great shape.”
Olsen’s creativity was another critical factor as D.C. pulledthrough that trying time. Midfielders became defenders, and outside backs moved to the middle.
It’s not a bad blueprint for the coming weeks.
“We got a lot of guys minutes in spots they were notnecessarily comfortable in.” Olsen said Thursday. “Places where they might find themselves down the stretch,so that was a positive. We’ll seehow we hold up.”
The young coach is also getting some help from upstairs. Early Thursday, United acquired defender Mike Chabala from Portland in a move sure to alleviate some of the club's concerns in defense. The left-sided back is expected to join the D.C. for training on Friday and could travel with the team to Kansas City.