Ninety minutes don’t give us a lot with which to form an opinion, but Ben Olsen trusts his players. Olsen only used one substitution during the match against New England, which means that he wanted to show the starting eleven that he had confidence in them to do their job. Confidence is not high at this moment for United, but the players that started the game surely felt some from their coach when he gave them the chance to stay on the field for 90 minutes.
D.C. United needs better chemistry on the field, and the only way to find that chemistry is to see players interacting on the field. There were some decent stretches of attacking play for United, especially in the second half. Two plays stick out as good illustrations of the potential the group of players United has.
There was a string of passes in the attacking third, completed by an excellent one-time ball from Branko Boskovic to Pablo Hernandez. The pass was weighted perfectly by Boskovic, and seemed like he was about to earn his first MLS assist on Hernandez’s first MLS goal. Hernandez struck the ball first time, but it was right at the goalkeeper who blocked it away. Later in the half, on a counter-attack, Santino Quaranta had the ball on the left sideline, cut it back inside, attracted two defenders and laid a square ball off to Stephen King. It was set up as nicely as a pre-game shooting drill. King fired with power, but missed the target.
D.C. United knows that near misses aren’t good enough, but the more the same players are on the field together, the more good chances they will create and the better off the team will be. By choosing to use only one substitution, Coach Olsen showed in his debut that he wants his best players to have the best chance to leave their mark on a game. The ones who are going to be the impact players for D.C. United this season and beyond need to be on the field together as much as possible, because that is the most likely way that they will begin to improve as a team.
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