The post-match press conference is a tricky littlething. Coaches answer questionswith questions of their own or fill responses with clichés, often choosing toengage in a game of cat and mouse with the awaiting press. D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen is nodifferent, usually rushing through answers as though his mind has alreadyskipped ahead to the next match on the Black-and-Red’s schedule.
But following Tuesday’s 2-1 U.S. Open Cup loss toPhiladelphia, Olsen showed a genuine sense of urgency in corralling reportersafter emerging from the D.C. locker room.
It was as if the second-year coach had something to get offhis chest.“We’ve been asking for this loss,” Olsen said, launchinginto a 124-second monologue during which no one – himself included – was safefrom criticism. “I look at myselffirst and I look at our staff first. We have to realize that that is not a good enough performance. Too many guys were on their own pagetoday, we were cute all over the field and we thought it was going to be enoughto step out here and beat a team because they were a little down on their luck.”
Perhaps most frustrating for D.C.'s coach was that, more so than atany other time this season, his team entered Tuesday night rested andhealthy. Following a ten-day break,Emiliano Dudar and Robbie Russell returned to their spots in United’s back linewhile Branko Boskovic turned in his longest outing of 2012. Sure the Black-and-Red were withoutDwayne De Rosario, Dejan Jakovic, Chris Pontius and Danny Cruz, but - offeredthe chance to blame the loss on those absences - Olsen scoffed.
“I’ve got enough players out there to beat Philadelphia,” heroared, the intensity that characterized Olsen’s playing days still clearlyburning inside the former United midfielder. “They were down, they were missing more pieces than wewere. They wanted it, they fought,they were revved up. It’s justpoor overall execution from the team and myself.”
Olsen’s angst can also be attributed to the missedopportunity resulting from Tuesday’s defeat. Eight of the sixteen MLS teams entered in the 99th U.S. Open Cup were already eliminated entering the fourth-round, and the New YorkRed Bulls – who would have been D.C.’s quarterfinal opponent had both sides won– were upset by the third-division Harrisburg City Islanders. United’s path to a 13th major trophy, and the accompanying CONCACAF Champions League berth the coachhimself described as ‘huge’ earlier in the week, might have been considerablyless-daunting than anticipated.
“We were casual,” Olsen continued. “We don’t have to get into that spot, we don’t have to helpthat guy out, all the little things we forgot about. I don’t want to be dramatic, I know it is the Open Cup but Ilike the Open Cup. I wanted to winthe Open Cup, so I’m a little bit pissed off.”
While most of his ire was focused internally, Olsen wasn’tshy about sharing his thoughts on how Tuesday’s match was officiated. Much has been made in the hours sinceabout Olsen’s comments, but the young coach ended his fiery post-game talk with a clear disclaimer.
“I don’t want in any way for you to make me look like I’mscapegoating the referees for that game,” Olsen asked of the gatheredmedia. “Please do not do that. This is on me and this is on my players.”