With last-minute injury absences, moving pieces on the backline and a shortened timetable to acclimate to Rio Tinto Stadium’s considerableelevation, Saturday night seemed like the perfect time for D.C. United to packit in defensively and hope to salvage a rare point away from RFK.
And yet over ninety minutes against RSL, the Black-and-Redwere the aggressors. Ben Olsen’sside matched – and at times even bettered –RSL’s famous pressure. They outshot Real Salt Lake 14-13 andcreated almost as many corners and open play crosses as the favored hosts.
Where D.C. didn’t have an advantage, was in the final third. While chance after chance came andwent, United couldn’t beat their former goalkeeper.
“Nicky [Rimando] played as good as he had all year,” Olsenlamented after the 1-0 defeat. “Ithink that seeing as how he is playing D.C. United, he is probably pretty happywith that.”
The club’s inability to capitalize on one of the manychances created by a revitalized Dwayne De Rosario overshadowed an otherwise noteworthyperformance. Playing out ofposition, Brandon McDonald acquitted himself at right back and Chris Pontiuslooked like the player that tore MLS apart this summer.
“The team played extremely well,” said Bill Hamid, who madethree saves on the night. “We werebuzzing about creating chances. [I’m] not sure how we didn’t walk out of here with a win but it was agreat effort from all those guys out there on the field.”
Before leaving for Salt Lake on Friday, midfielder MarceloSaragosa – who earned his fourth consecutive start in midfield – said the clubneeded a ‘different attitude’ to find success on the road. With D.C.’s last visiting point comingon June 16, few would argue the Brazilian’s statement.
On Saturday, despite the result, United may have found its recipefor success beyond Washington.
"If we put that type of effort and mentality into the rest of the season I have faith that we will get where we want to be," Olsen added. "There is a lot to play. [Seven] games left and  points out there."